Friendships Make Seniors Healthier & Happier

As the “aging at home” movement grows, an important concern has surfaced: new research shows that social isolation may be a precursor to memory loss. So, for seniors who choose to reside alone at home, cognitive decline may be a real possibility. The good news is that lifestyle improvements can make a significant difference.

“As seniors age, it’s important to check in with them regularly to determine whether they’re getting regular social interaction,” advises Carisa Ronish, therapeutic recreation administrator. “If social isolation is a concern, the camaraderie and robust recreational programs at a skilled nursing facility like The Nathaniel Witherell can greatly enhance quality of life.”

Research published in McKnights, a news source devoted to long-term care, reveals that high levels of social isolation result in memory decline. Whereas clinicians previously thought memory decline led to social isolation, it appears that that the reverse is true.

According to the study, “men who were ‘highly isolated’ had an 18% memory decline over two years compared to a 6% decline among men with an ‘average’ score. For women, it was not overall lack of social contact, but increases in isolation that had the greatest impact over time.”

For seniors who decide to reside at home, it is important to keep lines of communication open. If you have questions about whether a loved one should still safely reside at home, or wonder when it might be time to consider skilled nursing care, call the Witherell at (203) 618-4232.

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