When Elvis Presley posed the question ‘Are You Lonesome Tonight?’ in his hit song, he was onto something. New research published in the Archives of Internal Medicine shows that loneliness is as important a risk factor for poor health outcomes, re-hospitalization, and death as many medical risk factors for seniors.
Yet few health care providers are asking about loneliness, and even fewer are prepared to address it.
According to Homespire CEO, Joel Theisen, RN, Homespire, we need to focus on a whole person approach to care– across all 7 elements of wellbeing – and not just look at a narrow focus such as their health or a specific diagnosis in isolation from everything else. Equally important, the philosophy behind Homespire is that if we want to change the experience for people we need as a society start with what is most important to them.
Be careful, though, of confusing loneliness with being alone. The researchers define loneliness as ‘the subjective feeling of isolation, not belonging or lacking companionship.” They found that people suffering from loneliness are just as likely to live with others as live alone.
Wondering how this new loneliness research may impact you and your older loved ones?
- Ask the question – ask your loved ones whether they have feelings (and how often they have them) of being left out, isolation, or lack of common companionship. The researchers classified people as ‘lonely’ if they responded ‘some of the time’ or ‘often’ to any of those three components.
- Evaluate your loved one’s social support network – what does it look like, has it changed recently, what is the gap between what they want it to be and what it is?
- Identify what is most meaningful to them – what are their hobbies, what gets them up in the morning, what is their purpose/passion?
- Get assistance from professionals with experience addressing loneliness – check with your physician, or connect with Homespire for a free discovery consultation.
You can make a significant impact on your parents’ overall well-being and quality of life with just a few simple questions and some creative plans to inspire their lives. No need for new medications or costly diagnostics.
We want to know, share with us, how have you addressed social isolation or loneliness with your aging parents?