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The Dangers Of Social Isolation and Lonliness As We Age

December 31, 2020

Human beings are social creatures. Our connection to others enables us to survive and thrive. Yet, as we age, many of us are alone more often leaving us vulnerable to social isolation and loneliness. In the US about 13.8 million older adults live alone, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

According to a report by the National Institute on Aging, research has linked social isolation and loneliness to higher risks for a variety of physical and mental conditions: high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, weakened immunity, anxiety, depression, cognitive decline, and even death.  People who are unexpectedly alone due to the death of a spouse or partner, separation from friends or family, retirement, loss of mobility, and lack of transportation are at increased risk.

Conversely, people who engage in meaningful, productive activities with others tend to live longer, are happier, and have a sense of purpose. These activities help maintain well-being and improve cognitive function.

Losing a sense of connection and community may change a person’s perception.  Someone experiencing chronic loneliness may feel threatened and mistrustful of others, which activates a biological defense mechanism, according to Steve Cole, Ph.D., director of the Social Genomics Core Laboratory for the University of California.

“Loneliness acts as a fertilizer for other diseases. The biology of loneliness can accelerate the buildup of plaque in arteries, help cancer cells grow and spread, and promote inflammation in the brain leading to Alzheimer’s disease.”

According to Dr. Cole, people who feel lonely may have weakened immune cells which increases vulnerability to viruses and infectious diseases. Having a sense of mission and purpose in life is linked to healthier immune cells.

At Harmony at Wescott Plantation and Harmony at West Ashley – You can say good riddance to social isolation and loneliness.  Whether you’re seeking the freedom of maintenance-free Independent Living, in search of caring support provided by Assisted Living, or in need of the specialized attention of a comprehensive Memory Care program - you will find the right level of assistance at Harmony. Multiple care levels on one campus enables flexibility and a combination of services tailored to your needs.

Tired of the burdens of home ownership – but still have some pep in your step? In Independent Living, our professional team happily manages your housekeeping, maintenance, and landscaping, giving you more time and resources to live life to the fullest and pursue your passions.

Please contact a team member today to learn about all that Harmony has to offer!

Harmony Senior Services provides Independent Living, Assisted Living, &  Memory Care in the Greater Charleston area. Comfort. Easy elegance. Irresistible cuisine. Friends and family. These are the elements that make a person feel at home, and they are the very essence of everyday senior living at Harmony.  Come see all that good living can be at one of our two Charleston locations: Harmony at West Ashley 1925 Essex Farms

Harmony Senior Services