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Monday, October 1, 2007

Loneliness, Isolation Increases Alzheimer's and Dementia Risk

Caregivers for seniors might like to read about a study from the Rush Alzheimer's Disease Center that is discussed in an article titled "Loneliness Associated with Increased Risk of Alzheimer's Disease" at Medical News Today. Isolation and limited social contacts are known to be associated with a decline of mental abilities. In this study the emotional side of loneliness was studied by analyzing people over a four year period. Those with higher levels of lonely emotions were shown to have a higher risk of developing Alzheimer's.

The article went on to discuss the social side of human nature, and our needs for healthy interaction with others.

As a caregiver I've often been called to start a schedule assisting an elderly senior at home who has been living alone for many years. Sometimes a person will have lost a spouse and continued on in the same house, living alone, without adult children living nearby.

After many years of assisting people in offices, facilities, and in home care I can see the difference between people who have had social interaction available and those who have not.

My heart goes out to those frail elders who do not have good enough health to leave the house to visit others, and who do not have old friends or relatives nearby. Sometimes their spouses have passed away, their relatives live in another state, and old friends may have passed away also.

As a caregiver I try to provide social interaction and activities, and to help frail seniors go for outings to the store or to events.

This article about the emotional side of loneliness and Alzheimer's made me think of the elderly seniors I have assisted who have been isolated. There is no doubt to me that the frail seniors who have social interaction are often mentally more cognizant, and emotionally in a better frame of mind, less depressed.

A friendly caregiver who supplies activities and outings can help to make a difference for a frail senior.

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