In all age groups, depression is mostly caused by isolation. Seniors, if left alone for more extended periods, can develop this condition. In more severe cases, individuals even have thoughts of suicide. Because of this, it is essential to have a caregiver who can recognize the signs of depression. A caregiver who can notice an elderly adult who is feeling isolated can do much to change their condition. Here, we are going to talk about how caregivers can address isolation in older adults.
The Risks of Social Isolation
More than 8 million adults older than 50 years of age are affected by isolation. The risk of this condition is high. The most important thing to know regarding isolation is that it can ignite different health risks. Experts are commenting that isolation can be caused by various factors that include poor mental and physical health, inadequate living space, and various unfortunate life events. According to AARP, living in isolation has a bad effect similar to smoking fifteen cigarettes a day.
Social Isolation and Seniors
Seniors are the age group most prone to isolation as they go through significant life changes. A new factor that started to play a massive role in creating isolation in the elderly is the use of technology. Although modern technology can be as helpful to seniors as anyone else, it also can create problems for older adults.
Elderly adults love to communicate with younger people, including their immediate family, friends, grandchildren, and cousins. But they are often left out of conversations due to their inability to use modern sources of communication. At the same time, youngsters won’t use old ones, such as writing a letter or talking on a land line. Technology has become an essential part of everyone’s lives, but some seniors find that hard to accept and adapt. Furthermore, if someone develops adversity towards technology and modern communicating devices, their path to isolation only becomes shorter.
What Caregivers Should Look For
Caregivers are in the best position to recognize isolation in the elderly. They are the first wall to defend their charges from becoming depressed. The easiest way to notice isolation is to follow changes in seniors’ overall health. Also, it is essential to know if they have gone through an event in their life that might have a damaging effect on their overall well-being. Bellow, we will write down some of the signals that you need to follow to better recognize isolation that could later lead to depression. Here are the signs that a senior might be struggling with isolation and depression:
- Continuing feeling of sadness in a senior
- Frequent health issues not related to previous conditions
- Less interest in things they previously enjoyed
- Loss of appetite followed by weight loss
- Notable expression of hopelessness or helplessness
- Absence of motivation and energy
- Loss of sleep
- Loss of self-esteem
- Abuse of alcohol or other unhealthy substances
- Expression of thoughts about death
- Talk about suicide
- Changes regarding their speech, movement, or memories
- Absence of self-care
What Caregivers Can Do
There is no doubt that social isolation is a dangerous condition, but caregivers can help seniors who experience it. The best place to start would be to encourage the elderly to start new relationships, make new friends, find a hobby, volunteer, or buy a pet. Furthermore, caregivers should try to bring seniors closer to technology and to allow them to be in contact with whomever they want. Helping them to learn to use smartphones, computers, and social networks could do wonders for their social life. In the end if nothing from above is doable, then it would be time to search for professional help.
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