As your parent ages and stays living alone at home, you may have concerns over his or her wellbeing, and loneliness is one concern you may have. Loneliness is common among seniors that live at home, and it can be harmful both physically and emotionally. While you may not be able to spend a great deal of time with your parent to help him or her with this issue, you could always hire an in-home care company to provide companion care and other services for your parent. As you consider hiring a company for this purpose, it's important to fully understand the destructive effects loneliness can have on your parent physically and emotionally.
Physical Effects Of Loneliness
People of all age groups can be lonely, but seniors have a higher risk of being lonely and isolated due to health conditions and mobility issues. Being lonely is not only a sad situation for a person to be in, but it is also a state that can lead to a variety of different physical health issues. Here are some of the effects loneliness can have on a person's physical health:
- Increased levels of pain – If your parent suffers from any type of chronic health problem, he or she probably has pain with this problem. When your parent is lonely, the pain level can actually increase. A person's brain registers loneliness in a similar way as it recognizes danger and physical pain. This leads to increased levels of pain simply from feeling lonely and isolated.
- Higher risk of heart problems – Loneliness can also lead to heart problems. This occurs because loneliness triggers feelings of stress and anxiety, which will both cause a person's heart to work harder than normal. Stress and anxiety also lead to higher levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, in the body. Exposure to this hormone for long periods of time is also known for increasing the risk of heart problems. One study showed that people who are lonely have a 24% higher chance of dying of heart disease, and this stems from the effects of being lonely for long periods of time.
- Decreased immune system functions – Another physical effect of loneliness is a decrease in the way the immune system works. The immune system is vital for fighting infections and keeping a person healthy. When a person feels lonely, his or her immune system may spend its time fighting the results of loneliness instead of fighting viral infections. This can lead to inflammation in the body and problems with the way the body handles actual physical threats.
In addition, loneliness can cause problems with a person's sleep habits and can actually lead to a shorter life span.
Emotional Effects Of Loneliness
Loneliness does not only have negative effects on a person's physical health, but it can also be detrimental to a person's emotional state of mind. Emotional and physical connections with people are vital for survival and contentment in life. The longer a person stays lonely, the more damage the person might suffer emotionally from this. Here are several consequences of loneliness on a person's emotional state of mind:
- Increased risk of dementia – People who are lonely have a higher risk of developing dementia, and this is due to the effects of loneliness on the brain. Dementia can cause short-term and long-term memory loss and can destroy a person's ability to think and rationalize.
- Depression – Having no one to talk to and visit with often leads to depression, and people with depression often want to isolate themselves. This can lead to a vicious cycle that is not healthy for a person.
- Increased risk of suicide and alcoholism – Lonely people have a higher risk of developing an addiction, such as alcoholism, and a higher risk of committing suicide.
Spending time with your parent is vital for his or her health and wellbeing. If you cannot spend a lot of time with your parent due to distance or schedule issues, it might be worthwhile to look into hiring an in-home care company. They can provide your parent with numerous services, including companion care, and this could help your parent feel happier and healthier. To learn more, contact a company that provides in-home care services, or click here to continue reading more about in-home care options.