Many changes accompany ageing, some of which can lead to a more isolated existence. One of the most compelling concerns for seniors is their social connections shrinking as they age. On the other hand, retirement allows older folks to devote more time to leisure and recreation, eliminating meaningful friendships.
As individuals, we seek to live a healthy lifestyle while achieving success and happiness. It is necessary to tread a fine line between physical and mental health. If we think about senior wellness, we usually focus on physical health or dementia treatment, but we frequently overlook that seniors may also experience loneliness and anxiety.
Singapore is intriguing to explore how loneliness affects elderly folks due to its growing ageing population and' collectivistic' culture. People's connections and relationships are crucial. In contrast to an 'individualistic' culture, each person's wants and desires are prioritized. Previous research has revealed that loneliness is more prevalent in collectivist societies, implying that loneliness is far more destructive to Singaporean society.
When compared to never-lonely colleagues, elders who are occasionally or mainly lonely at the age of 60 should anticipate spending three to five years less of their remaining lives without constraints in activities of daily life (ADLs). Their functional life expectancy drops by two to four years on average once they reach the age of 70. On average, at the age of 80, it is one to three years less.
The national representative data obtained from more than 2,000 elderly Singapore citizens and residents in the Singapore Chinese Health Study conducted in 2016 and 2017 revealed that a third (34%) of the participants felt lonely. The percentage rose with age, from 32% of those aged 60–69 to 40% of those aged 80 and up.
In comparison to women (31%), more men (37%) were considered lonely. For someone with no formal education had the lowest percentage of lonely older Singaporeans (33%), whereas those with higher learning had the most significant proportion (38%). The ratio was over 10% higher for the elderly who lived alone (43%) than those who did not (33%).
Older people living alone are often more likely to experience social isolation, which puts them at risk for poor health, unnecessary hospital re-admissions, and early death. We wondered why elderly Singaporeans choose to live alone as they search for medical services.
Poor financial judgment capacity may be incredibly harmful to older adults with cognitive impairment. Financial incapacity leaves older adults subject to economic exploitation, has a detrimental impact on their family's financial condition, and strains family connections.
Due to financial inability or increased spending on medical bills and healthcare services, a significant portion of Singapore's ageing demographic lives on a limited income.
Grief can have physiological impacts, including insomnia, poor appetite, and mental symptoms such as depression. Grief can weaken an elderly patient's immune system and possibly losing interest in their treatment.
Bereavement in an older population can contribute to feelings of isolation and depression. It's disturbing that elderly bereaved individuals aren't receiving the assistance and services that may make a massive impact on their lives.
Living in multigenerational families promotes the movement of funds and services but can also lead to disputes and unrealistic expectations for support. When such seniors have no descendants or live far away from children, or when they prefer to live alone but have children around, they miss the extensive support from family that Asian cultures offer. They are more prone to social isolation due to their physical seclusion.
As they're more likely to be living independently, lose friends or relatives, suffer from chronic illness, have hearing loss, or be affected by socioeconomic factors, elderly folks are more vulnerable to loneliness and social isolation. Loneliness is the sensation of being alone, irrespective of social engagement.
Loneliness is another prevalent cause of depression among the elderly. As they grow older, their human interaction lessens, typically owing to a limitation of mobility, retirement, or other factors, resulting in more remarkable instances of senior social isolation. According to studies, loneliness is also a significant risk factor for depression, increasing feelings of dissatisfaction and worthlessness. As a result, it is critical to be on the lookout for these symptoms and take steps to alleviate them in advance for yourself or a loved one and consider coming to the aid of elderly care services.
Social isolation and loneliness have been associated with a higher risk of hypertension, heart problems, obesity, a weak immune system, stress, depression, neurodegeneration, Alzheimer's disease, or even death in the elderly.
People who find themselves alone for the first time owing to the loss of a partner, estrangement from friends or relatives, retirement, or lack of mobility are highly susceptible to these consequences.
Even though it's challenging to quantify loneliness and isolation, there seems to be hard proof that many individuals in their 50s and beyond are lonely and isolated or lonely in manners that are bad for health.
Social isolation raises an elderly's risk of dying prematurely from any cause, a danger that may parallel that of smoking and obesity. It was linked to a 50% rise in dementia risk, a 29% rise in heart disease risk, and a 32% increase in stroke risk.
Physical function refers to one's capacity to carry out fundamental and instrumental everyday activities. Their physical skills primarily determine the ability of senior citizens to live in the community.
Numerous physical and health-related factors, including extended isolation and loneliness, among the most common problems faced by elderly living alone in Singapore, may vary depending on physiological performance.
As we grow older, we may endure changes that bring us anxiety and unhappiness. Transitioning from work to retirement, losing a loved one, or receiving a disease diagnosis can make the seniors feel nervous, apprehensive, and unhappy, leading to depression and poor health outcomes over time.
Depression in the aged is impossible to discern since their symptoms differ from those of the younger population. Some elders may show less apparent signs than depression and poor self rated health. Hence, people are less likely to express their thoughts, and clinicians may be unable to detect depression.
To that end, we've compiled a list of resources and activities that might help seniors cope with loneliness and sadness while also emphasizing the importance of excellent senior care.
Physical activity is a lifeline for older people, according to several studies. Jogging, taking a walk, and workouts for the elderly are good ways to keep seniors in suitable physical, mental, and emotional form.
One might also push the depressed person to enrol in a group exercise class, such as yoga or tai chi, where they might meet like-minded people and develop friendships.
Allowing your loved ones to struggle with depression on their own is not a good idea. Motivate them to meet up with friends and extended relatives, go on social outings, and participate in community programs by implementing treatments that inspire individual and personal productivity.
According to research, having an active social life promotes physical, mental, and emotional health, which is particularly crucial for the elderly who are lonely or depressed.
Keep an eye out for warning signs, and seek professional treatment if you fear a loved one is depressed. Emotional support is also essential. Assure them that they will be not alone by being a patient and empathetic listeners.
Validating their emotions and expressing their love can also help seniors establish control over their sadness. Show your love and need for ageing seniors by listening to them and hugging them frequently.
For bereaved seniors who require more substantial support and sympathy to cope with grief, displays of affection are significant.
It's better to deal with an ageing person's unhappiness if you understand what meals to feed them. Fibre-rich diets, like fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean protein, are essential for seniors. Serve veggies lightly cooked, with sugar, starch, and excessive fats kept to a minimum.
The emotional impacts of ageing must be addressed in the same way that the physical effects must be handled. Unfortunately, we can't shelter our loved ones from the grief of losing a marriage or a shrinking social group. When people go through substantial changes later in life, they are bound to feel lonely.
Nevertheless, with the support of our healthcare system, we can explore ways to enable older generations to communicate with everyone and feel truly valuable. You can hire anyone to check in on your more senior family members a day and assist with day-to-day duties, or you can discover assisted living Singapore.
Likewise, look for the professional help from the government, such as the Ministry of Social and Family Development or Social Service Offices. If you believe the behaviour is spiralling out of control, seek a mental health specialist and bring your elderly loved one up for treatment.