When we experience physical pain, it is a sign from our body that we need to take care of ourselves. The same can be said when we experience loneliness in a pandemic, as it is important to take care of ourselves in the form of companionship. Older adults need to find ways to protect themselves from loneliness during this pandemic to prevent the risks of cognitive decline and dementia. 

The Health Consequences of Loneliness

Restaurant closures and limits on visitors in assisted living centers have made it harder to see loved ones. A study in the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine said that between 19% and 43% of adults ages 60 and older (as well as many adults over 50) are at risk of poor health from prolonged loneliness. These individuals’ risk of premature death could increase, in addition to the risk of elevated heart disease and stroke. This can potentially mean frequent visits to the doctor and emergency room.

Loneliness can contribute to cognitive decline through physical inactivity, symptoms of depression, poor sleep, and increased blood pressure and inflammation. Loneliness has also been linked to the buildup of beta-amyloid and tau proteins in the brain, which leads to Alzheimer’s disease. This can also happen as a result of negative thinking.

Social Activity Helps Fight Against Mental Decline

Maintaining high-quality relationships can help protect the brain from the negative health consequences that can occur in isolation. A study in Psychosomatic Medicine says that those who are satisfied in their relationships experience a 23% lower risk of dementia, and 55% lower for those who are in supportive relationships. This buffers against the decline of mental processing abilities that lead to Alzheimer’s. Maintaining strong social ties and having satisfying relationships can help people cope better with stress.

Good Strategies to Cope With Loneliness

An important step to combating loneliness is to recognize your loneliness and accept that this is part of being human. Instead of thinking about what is not possible at the moment, think about what you can do right now to stay connected. This can mean reaching out to your family and friends through phone or video conferences. You can also try new activities that you normally would not have time for, like taking an online class or trying a new hobby. Finding entertaining ways to ease the lonely days can make a great difference in your overall health. 

Loneliness can be a disease in itself. The older you get, the more important it is that you surround yourself with people who love you and keep you young. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we are told that social contact is not a safe idea, as it can increase one’s risk of contracting the virus. At Alta Loma’s transformative treatment center in Georgetown, Texas, we strive to find ways to help you with your loneliness. We work with men of all ages to treat a variety of mental health issues, including anxiety and depression. We understand that loneliness can contribute to these disorders if it is left untreated. At Alta Loma, we provide a relaxing facility filled with top specialists to help better your life. With full psychiatric assessments, individualized therapy, therapeutic recreational activities, comprehensive care coordination, and much more, you cannot go wrong. Find out more information by calling us today at (866) 457-3843.