Loneliness

Loneliness in the Elderly

by Angie on

We are in an age where communication has reached a culminating point. A friend or family member residing on the other side of the earth can be communicated via the internet or phone in matters of seconds. Despite this advancement in technology, research shows that ours is a society, lonelier than what it used to be before. Findings from studies carried out on the elderly, show that this age group is the loneliest than all the other age groups.

A few findings from American studies that focused  on loneliness in the elderly are as follows:

  • Eighteen percent of senior citizens in America live lonely and 43% of senior citizens feel lonely on a regular basis.
  • There is a 45% increase in the risk of death among people aged 60 years or older who feel lonely, while isolated elders have a 59% increased risk of mental and physical decline compared to those elderly who socialize.
  • One in 7 people with Alzheimer’s disease live alone.
  • The most startling of findings was that two-thirds of older adults in America who felt lonely were either married or living with a partner.
Lonely UK

As people get older, one of the important aspects is to continue choosing healthy foods and enjoying eating as a social activity. For people of all ages, especially the elderly, nutritional requirement is a must. Imbalance of nutrition in the elderly can occur due to either an excess or lack of nutrient consumption. This lack or excess consumption of nutrients is called malnutrition.

Malnutrition is increasingly becoming a very common health problem among the elderly population. Unfortunately, it has not received the importance it deserves.

Malnutrition can negatively impact the health of the elderly and hence, it is an important to address and resolve it as soon as it is identified. The negative impact of malnutrition include illness such as increased infection, electrolyte imbalances, altered skin integrity, anaemia, weakness, fatigue, longer stays in hospital, inability to perform regular activities, physical complications and death

Loss of appetite and unintentional weight loss are the main signs of malnutrition. Other signs may include dull and dry hair, dryness of the eye, receding gums, mental confusion, sensory loss and motor weakness. Malnutrition is prevalent in 5-10% of elderly people, majority of whom are hospitalised (about 60%) or long-term care facilities (35-85%) [Furman, 2006].