There are mental and physical health risks connected to social isolation. It has been connected to increased mortality as well as to an increased risk of falls and hospital admission. If you feel lonely or are experiencing social isolation, reach out to talk through your feelings.
What is Social Isolation?
While some who are socially isolated are lonely, the two terms do not mean the same thing. To be clear, social isolation means that someone doesn’t have the correct circumstances in place to socialize. This can happen for a variety of reasons. Social isolation can occur if an individual has any of the following circumstances in place.
- Mobility issues, including needing a cane, walker or wheelchair, or being physically frail.
- Is no longer able to drive on their own and doesn’t have access to other transportation choices.
- Lives in an isolated area or isn’t connected with the community they live in.
Loneliness is when a person feels they are alone without companions. People can experience loneliness even if they are socially connected. This is common among older adults who have lost those closest to them, such as a spouse, lifelong friends, and siblings.
Strive for Social Integration
If you are socially active, it also increases the likelihood of your connections being socially integrated. When you have a range of social relationships, from romantic to friend, it allows you to have different levels of intimacy. In a way, when you are integrated socially, you are part of intersecting circles, within your marriage, your religious community, and through social activities, for example. Strive for social integration to feel a larger sense of belonging and wellbeing.
Benefits of Being Socially Connected
If you are coping with feelings of isolation or loneliness, recognize that it is not necessarily bad. It is a signal to make some changes. Talking with a counselor can help you work through your emotions and move toward productive steps to life improvement, including establishing ties with other people.
Once you get the socialization ball rolling, you will likely be surprised at how quickly it will pick up speed. That is because people who are socially connected create a web of support for one another. You may find you have more transportation options, emotional support, and access to community events. Then, you can manage your stress better and experience a boost to your physical and mental health.
Social isolation has been receiving more attention in recent years. This makes sense, because it is now recognized for how detrimental it can be. You can actually slow your cognitive decline and boost your overall wellbeing through staying socially active. Do so through online resources or community connections. Connecting with others may also boost your brain health and lower your risk of dementia. Get involved. You will be happy you did.
If you or someone you love is socially isolated, compile ways to connect with life each and every day. There is a path to healing, simply start where you are and move forward.
Kendall Van Blarcom is a senior helping seniors. Contact Van Blarcom Consulting today for help with your personal problems. Or, reach out to provide support for an older adult in your life.