A recent article from the Assisted Living Federation of America shared the results of a new survey on loneliness in seniors. The study, which came out of the University of California, San Francisco, found that within a 6-year period, 22.8 percent of seniors (average age: 71) who reported loneliness or feelings of isolation had passed away, and 24.8% experienced significant functional declines. In comparison with the numbers of those who were “socially satisfied,” the numbers are striking: only 14.2% of seniors passed away in the 6-year period, and 12.5% experienced a decline in function.
Social and family connections are extremely important in preventing these adverse outcomes. It’s vital that seniors in assisted living maintain these connections too; just because they are living in a community setting does not mean that loneliness is not a possibility. Visitors of all ages — children, young adults, peers, and even furry ones (a family pet, perhaps) — are of great encouragement and support to seniors receiving home care services or living in a residential care setting like assisted living. Family members and friends should call often and keep in touch consistently to ensure that loved ones are not suffering from loneliness or depression.
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