Loneliness in seniors is at an epidemic level in the US. We live in an age where we can communicate with family across the country and around the globe with a few clicks of a mouse or taps on a smartphone screen. However, despite advances in communications technology and the increasing connectedness it brings, seniors are not always connected to their community and end up isolated and lonely.
One of the biggest issues for seniors is that their social circles begin to shrink as we get older. Friends, significant others, and family members move or pass away. Even those who still live close by may be inaccessible due to limited mobility, triggered many times once a senior can no longer drive safely. Age-related changes in one’s physical condition, such as hearing loss and low vision, can make it so difficult to communicate that it doesn’t seem worth the effort anymore- the result loneliness and isolation. According to an AARP study, 19% of older adults in the United States suffer from loneliness; 8% of older adults often feel lonely, and 11% feel lonely at least some of the time.
In the UK, only 17% of older people are in contact with family, friends, and neighbors less than once a week, and 11% in contact less than once a month.
Lifespan, a 35-year-old care management program in Santa Cruz, California, has just begun a quality of life program called “Well Being”. to address loneliness and isolation. Their service is designed to bring joy back to elderly clients, many of whom are isolated or living alone.
They serve lonely elders at any stage of their lives- from mentally clear to levels of dementia. Lifespan employs personal assistants trained in quality of life activities ,to engage elders in intellectual, physical, emotional and spiritual quality of life activities after the care manager does a quality of life assessment and creates a quality of life action plan outlining what activities would bring back joy and activities they love and can do again with the personal assistant help.