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Understanding the Health Risks of Social Isolation in Older Adults

Over the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic put everyone in physical and social isolation. While some people thrived in quarantine—baking bread and organizing closets—others have felt the impacts of this isolation, feeling mentally and emotionally drained. 

There is one group of people that have been particularly affected by this isolation, though. Older adults face significant risks when it comes to social isolation, putting them at higher risk for certain physical and mental health concerns, among them being respiratory illness. 

Franklin Park® Senior Living offers senior living communities and services throughout San Antonio, Texas. We are proud to have opened up our communities and allow our residents to socialize with each other, family, and friends. We know how meaningful these social connections are, so we’re sharing some information on the importance of socialization and how social isolation can impact the health and wellness of older adults.   

Why Seniors Are at Higher Risk for Social Isolation 

In the United States, about 27% of adults 60 and over live alone. Unfortunately, this is already a risk factor for both loneliness and isolation; one study reported that up to 20% of older adults living alone speak with as little as three people per week.

To make matters worse, the quarantine and stay-at-home orders that were in place during COVID-19 only exacerbated these levels of isolation, leading to many adults facing the repercussions of prolonged-time alone. 

Impacts of Social Isolation

Respiratory Illness 

In a recent study by the University College London, experts found that older adults who spend too much time alone are at an increased risk for respiratory illnesses like COPD and asthma. According to the study, the number of hospitalizations due to respiratory illness increased during COVID-19 due to the high number of adults in isolation. 

High Blood Pressure & Heart Disease 

Another health risk of consistent social isolation in older adults is high blood pressure and heart disease. According to the CDC, poor social relationships and isolation can result in a 29% increased risk of heart disease and a 32% increased risk of stroke.

Cognitive Decline 

Social isolation has also been shown to be significantly associated with memory loss, cognitive decline, and even increased risk of dementia later in life. 

On the other hand, older adults who regularly engage in meaningful and fulfilling activities with others have been shown to have improved cognitive function and reduced risk of dementia.  

Poor Mental Health  

In addition to physical health, social isolation can also result in mental health concerns. For example, isolation and loneliness have been linked to higher senior depression, anxiety, and stress. 

Health Benefits of Social Interaction 

Conversely, maintaining strong social connections later in life can be valuable to overall health and wellness. Some specific benefits of socialization include: 

  • Strengthened immune system and better overall health  
  • Improved sleep
  • Enhanced creativity, confidence, and self-image
  • Decreased risk of depression and anxiety 
  • Lower risk of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease 
  • Broadened horizons and increased open-mindedness 

How Franklin Park® Promotes Socialization

Here at Franklin Park® Communities, we know how vital social interaction is for older adults. Because of this, we pay special attention to ensure our senior living services include sufficient opportunities for socialization, connection, and relationship building. On any given day, you’ll find our residents taking a water aerobics class, exploring a local shop or restaurant, shooting pool in the game room, or simply enjoying a beverage together in the cafe. 

Our resort-style communities work so that each resident feels welcome, at home, and comfortable. We offer a variety of fitness activities, spiritual programs, cultural events, and more to engage and excite our residents from all interests and backgrounds. Plus, we gladly accept suggestions and recommendations from our residents to feature activities of their choosing! 

Luxury Senior Living in San Antonio

Franklin Park® Senior Living offers independent living, assisted living, and memory care services throughout the San Antonio, Texas, area. In addition to our various social opportunities, each of our communities offers dedicated and professional care to meet each individual’s unique needs. 

To learn more about our senior living services and how we promote socialization, we invite you to visit our website