On July 1, 1946, the Communicable Disease Center (CDC) opened its doors and occupied one floor of a small building…
Social isolation and life expectancy
Loneliness does not appear overnight. Over years a person may become more isolated by small degrees. Friends and relatives die or move away, mobility slowly starts to restrict activity and sometimes problems such as incontinence, deafness and fear of falling keep people more isolated.
Prolonged isolation can damage the immune system, leaving people more vulnerable to infections. It can also affect the cardiovascular system, increasing the risk of heart and circulatory problems. Lack of social interaction has also been linked to the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
The role of companion/homemaker care provides a level of social integration that is not always credited for its role in abating loneliness. Social isolation has been described as the hidden killer, causing serious health problems which can have devastating consequences. Social relationships can be more than family and friends; qualified non-medical home care service is one of the most overlooked opportunities to improve quality of life. Studies by scholars such as Karl Pillemer and Elaine Wethington from the Department of Human Development & Sociology at Cornell University, in Ithaca, New York, are proving the importance of maintaining social connections and resources from middle age and beyond is essential as the foundation for successful aging.
Written by: Ramona K. Hunt M.S., Touching Hearts, Inc.