Senior loneliness is not only a pressing social issue, it’s also a major health risk. A groundbreaking study links social isolation with a higher risk of death in adults aged 52 and older.It’s been found to be as physically harmful as smoking 15 cigarettes a day and contributes to cognitive decline, including the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD).
To fight the loneliness epidemic – experienced by more than 40 percent of seniors throughout the nation – innovators in senior care are taking new approaches. They’re helping residents to seek rewarding activities, make robust social connections, and find a renewed sense of purpose.
Health literacy is our ability to understand health information and make the best health care decisions. A seminal study of these skills has issued a troubling report card: just 12 percent of all adults – and 3 percent of seniors – have proficient health literacy.
“Low health literacy has been linked to poor health outcomes, such as higher rates of hospitalization and less frequent use of preventive services,” says Callie Whitwell, chief operating officer and founding partner at Lifetime Wellness. Her company provides person-centered wellness, life enrichment, and recreational programming to independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing and rehabilitation, and memory care facilities throughout Texas and Oklahoma.
It’s been called “The Long Goodbye.” Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD) cause memory decline, cognitive impairment, and eventual loss of daily functioning. Today, 5.7 million Americans are living with the disease – with numbers projected to more than double by 2050.
Of those living with ADRD, 90 percent struggle with behavioral and psychological symptoms, from agitation and aggression to psychosis. These symptoms can be devastating for the person with ADRD and challenging for those who provide care – family members and health care staff alike.