Senior adult chat line

Connecting seniors with social resources, such as senior centers and meal delivery programs, is one way to combat subjective feelings of isolation. John Cacioppo, a neuroscientist and psychologist at the University of Chicago, has been studying social isolation for 30 years.One frightening finding is that feelings of loneliness are linked to poor cognitive performance and quicker cognitive decline. Cacioppo — it’s hard-wired into our brains, and when we don’t meet that need, it can have physical and neurological effects.The positive angle of these findings, says the report, is that using long-term health care services can in itself connect seniors with much-needed support.

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Statistics Canada reports that 80% of Canadian seniors participate in one or more social activities on a frequent basis (at least monthly) — but that leaves fully one-fifth of seniors not participating in weekly or even monthly activities.

Social contacts tend to decrease as we age for a variety of reasons, including retirement, the death of friends and family, or lack of mobility.

Early interventions for loneliness, say the study’s authors, may be key to preventing both the isolation and associated health risks.

According to the National Council on Aging, socially isolated seniors are more likely to predict their quality of life will get worse over the next 5-10 years, are more concerned about needing help from community programs as they get older, and are more likely to express concerns about aging in place.

As the baby boomer generation crosses the over-65 threshold, it grows; but many of our aging loved ones are still feeling alone in the crowd. As people get older, their likelihood of living alone only increases.

Additionally, more and more older adults do not have children, reports the AARP, and that means fewer family members to provide company and care as those adults become seniors.Nobody relishes the prospect of aging without a spouse or family member at their side, without friends to help them laugh at the ridiculous parts and support them through the difficult times.Yet, that is just what many North American seniors face. Census Bureau 11 million, or 28% of people aged 65 and older, lived alone at the time of the census.Regardless of the causes of senior isolation, the consequences can be alarming and even harmful.Even perceived social isolation — the feeling that you are lonely — is a struggle for many older people.Fortunately, the past couple of decades have seen increasing research into the risks, causes, and prevention of loneliness in seniors.

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