Practicing social distancing is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and has been widely accepted as one of the best methods for reducing the spread of the coronavirus ( COVID-19,) but it can cause other concerns for those in isolation. Seniors are among the most vulnerable to the virus, but they are also the most susceptible to increased feelings of loneliness and isolation.
What Causes Loneliness?
Loneliness is often caused by feelings of isolation or a lack of human connection with others. At a time when Americans are being asked to distance themselves from others, an extended limit on social interactions can have an even more severe impact on those already experiencing mental health issues.
A lack of social, intimate and emotional connections can be linked to many mental health disorders. Prolonged loneliness can lead to anxiety, depression, or physical ailments. The stress of uncertainty and isolation can cause a rise in the stress hormone cortisol, which can lead to weight gain, fatigue, insomnia and hypertension. This stress can further lead to social anxieties as isolation becomes our new normal.
At a time when most health care facilities are limiting visitors, staying in touch with seniors and those in isolation is more important than ever. Holding frequent phone or video calls or sending hand-written cards, photographs and emails are crucial to maintaining social interaction and staving off feelings of loneliness during the pandemic.
Family members and health care providers should be alert to the warning signs of isolation and loneliness, including changes in communication patterns, sleep, appetite, purchasing behaviors or physical activity.
If you think that someone you know or love is impacted by loneliness or isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic, Oceans Healthcare is here. Our staff is available 24/7 to help adults and seniors with behavioral health issues attain the best possible quality of life. Call a location near you or fill out this form for assistance.