Loneliness is an Epidemic Among the Elderly

There’s an old saying about feeling alone in a crowd. Despite living in a community of other residents and nursing staff, the elderly still face the issue of loneliness. Researchers at the UC San Diego School of Medicine conducted a study on loneliness in senior living and retirement communities. As it turns out, loneliness is an epidemic.

According to Dr. Dilip V. Jeste, senior author of the study, “Loneliness rivals smoking and obesity in its impact on shortening longevity. It is a growing public health concern, and it’s important that we identify the underlying causes of loneliness from the seniors’ own perspectives so we can help resolve it and improve the overall health, well-being and longevity of our aging population.”

During interviews, many seniors reported “feeling lonely in stark negative terms, attributing it to aging-associated losses or lack of social skills and abilities.” What researchers discovered was that many seniors were struggling to cope with loss. As they get older, they lose spouses, siblings, and friends from their youth. Even though they may try to make new friends, the new relationships aren’t as fulfilling as ones they had with the people they grew up with in their younger years. For those who lack adequate social skills, the struggle to socialize is even greater.

There is hope, however. Many of the elderly will seek out a new purpose for their life and take steps to ward off the feeling of loneliness. Whether it be performing a good act of kindness for another or just accepting the reality of the aging process and finding joy in the little things.

At a long-term care facility, bath time is a great way to socialize with residents who may be struggling with feelings of loneliness or isolation. While a shower can be a quick and effective way of maintaining good hygiene, it may feel “cold” or clinical for the resident. By creating a bathing experience that your residents will love and taking the time to talk with them, it can go a long way to helping them relax and feel good about life again.

If you have residents with limited mobility, there are bathing systems which allow ease of access. The Advantage™ End-Entry Seated Bathing System would be invaluable to make transitioning in and out of the tub easy on staff and residents. Once the resident is in the tub, the Rapid Fill™ Reservoir fills the tub in 90 seconds so the resident doesn’t feel cold and exposed.

So, instead of an institutional showering experience, help your residents feel at home having them enjoy a wonderful spa bathing experience as they chat with the nursing staff. This kind of experience can go a long way in fighting the epidemic of loneliness at your long-term care facility.

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