Addressing Loneliness in Long-Term Care Facilities
Social isolation and loneliness have significant implications for physical health. A recent report reviewing numerous studies found that social isolation increases the risk of early death by 26%, while loneliness raises it by 14%. Loneliness can also contribute to dementia, inflammation, vascular problems, and heart disease.
The exact mechanisms of social isolation and loneliness that affect physical health are still being studied. Still, evidence suggests they may involve elevated inflammatory chemicals and the release of stress hormones. Additionally, activation of the cardiovascular system and disrupted sleep patterns may play a role in the negative health outcomes associated with social disconnection.
Here are four ways to help combat this:
- Engage in group activities: Participate in group activities organized within the facility. These could include group exercise classes, games, crafts, or social events.
- Utilize technology for virtual connections: Take advantage of technology to stay connected with family, friends, and the outside world. Use video calls, social media, or email to communicate regularly with loved ones.
- Seek companionship through support groups: Explore support groups or social clubs within the long-term care facility.
- Foster connections with staff and caregivers: Develop positive relationships with the staff and caregivers in the facility. Engage in conversations, express your needs and interests, and build connections with those who provide care.
“As caregivers, we aim to create a warm and connected environment for our residents. Fostering relationships, encouraging social engagement, and embracing technology for virtual connections are crucial in combating social isolation and loneliness. Let’s build a supportive community where everyone feels valued and connected,” – Joe Kubulak, Chief Operating Officer at SpecialtyRx.