The Impact of Loneliness on Alzheimer's Risk

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How Does Loneliness Affect the Risk of Alzheimer’s?

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Feeling lonely can significantly increase a senior’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Although most families providing at-home care in Scottsdale think the causes of Alzheimer’s are largely related to genetics and various environmental factors, emotional health is a critical point to consider as well, particularly as it pertains to feelings of loneliness.

A Lack of Meaningful Relationships Affects Brain Health

A recent Amsterdam Study of the Elderly found seniors who lived without spouses or other relatives were more likely to develop Alzheimer’s than those who maintained active social lives and strong social connections. The study concluded feeling lonely, rather than merely being alone, was a key risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. Your loved one needs to have people in his or her life to reduce the risks of loneliness and Alzheimer’s, and the relationships must be meaningful.

Seniors Need Mutually Beneficial Social Connections

High-value social connections move beyond superficial relationships and give seniors the chance to both receive and offer help. These relationships allow seniors to communicate about things that are important to them, and they instill a sense of personal value. All people need to have relationships that provide the opportunity to support others while receiving essential forms of support in exchange.

Isolation Is a Major Risk Factor

The most common form of loneliness during the senior years results from isolation, though it is not necessarily essential for loneliness to arise. If your loved one spends too much time alone and doesn’t engage in activities that foster a sense of contentment and purpose, even the most basic social skills can start to wane. Isolation can create extreme emotional distress by undermining your loved one’s sense of self-worth. Helping him or her find social activities, such as group dance or aerobics classes or knitting or book clubs, could be essential. Your loved one may also need transportation, companionship and other assistance from a part-time or live-in caregiver in Scottsdale to ensure he or she is not spending too much time without social engagement. Though self-imposed isolation may not be detrimental to senior health, extended periods of forced isolation often precede loneliness.

Loneliness and being alone are not one and the same. Loneliness is a subjective feeling. People who have been fairly introspective their entire lives are less likely to feel lonely as they grow older. These seniors are prone to participating in a range of engaging independent activities that help them stay busy and provide a sense of personal value and contentment. Loneliness can strike even when seniors are regularly around other people. A perceived lack of social connections and an inability to connect with like-minded individuals are some of the common characteristics of loneliness.

If your loved one is socially isolated and you have concerns about his or her cognitive health, turn to Home Care Assistance. Our caregivers make wonderful social companions, and they can also keep your loved one mentally engaged with the stimulating activities we use in our Cognitive Therapeutics Method. In addition to Alzheimer’s care in Scottsdale, we also offer comprehensive dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s care. For more information on our in-home care services, call a Care Manager today at 480.448.6215.