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July 17, 2012 > LIFE ElderCare: Loneliness

LIFE ElderCare: Loneliness

Submitted By Sandy Hallgren

We all know the sayings: 'a task shared is half as difficult' or 'many hands make for light work.' Could it be that a task is easier when done by more people - or does having someone to share the experience help us function more effectively? A recent study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, "Loneliness in Older Persons," highlights the connection between loneliness and functional decline.

From 2002 through 2008, the study asked 1,604 seniors if they felt left out, isolated, or lacked companionship - all predictors of loneliness. Among the participants, 43% reported feeling lonely. Lonely individuals were more likely to experience a decline in their mobility and their ability to perform daily tasks, such as dressing, bathing and getting around in the home. Loneliness was also associated with an increased risk of death.

Given the number of health and social issues that health care providers must prioritize, the identification and treatment of loneliness may seem to be outside the scope of medical practice. Yet many health care providers may be missing a key "risk factor" of poor health.

If you are feeling lonely what can you do? How about a visit to your local senior center? Or, if you have difficulty getting out of your home, call the telephone support group, "Senior Center Without Walls" at (877) 797-7299. You are just a phone call away from enjoyable conversation, engaging group discussions and exploration of specific topics with others.

If you are looking for a new friend but don't know how to find one, call the Friendly Visitors program at LIFE ElderCare at (510) 574-2097. This program pairs volunteers from the community with seniors who would like a friend to visit them, one to two hours a week, in their own home.

Or, how about a little exercise to help boost your mood and reduce your risk of falling?

The Fall Prevention program at LIFE ElderCare can help with both of these issues. Enjoy a 12-week, personalized, in-home exercise routine that includes a weekly, one-hour coaching session with Unitek College nursing students. The program also offers a home safety check and medication review. Daily exercise will improve your mobility, make you stronger and help your balance. Call Sandy at 574-2088 to learn more.

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