Emily Solos was a social butterfly thanks to a 50-year career in retail. She often attended work events and communicated with her colleagues in person.
“I love all of it,” says the 79-year-old, who lives alone in South Florida. luck. “And then, all of a sudden, it stops because of your age.”
As she grew older, Solos developed back trouble and a car accident reduced her mobility. She wanted to keep her job but could no longer work the same job.
“Job offers are not available to older people, unless it’s just sitting behind a desk or doing something very quietly,” Solos says. Without work interactions, and with her daughter moving away, Solus becomes increasingly isolated and lonely.
“There is no cure for loneliness,” she says.
A new report from Alibaba obtained exclusively luck, which provides companion care to older people, highlights the prevalent loneliness experienced by the majority of people over the age of 65. Loneliness and social isolation have serious health effects, such as increasing the risk of dementia, anxiety, depression and heart disease, but they also leave serious health consequences. Seniors with limited options for emergency assistance.
No one to help in an emergency
Papa surveyed more than 28,000 Medicare Advantage members between January and June of this year and found that three in five people either felt lonely or very lonely, based on the UCLA 3-point loneliness scale . The report also found that one in five people do not have anyone they can rely on in an emergency, and 40% of respondents find it somewhat difficult or very difficult to find social support.
“The question for us is, who are these people?” says Kelsey McNamara, senior research director at Alibaba luck. “What challenges do they face? What do they need to thrive?”
Solos, who uses Papa’s Buddy support, wanted someone to ensure her home had the proper safety precautions to prevent falls, and to help her find accessible hobbies. Solos also wanted someone to talk to.
“I told [my companion] “How lonely I was,” she says. “This is the worst thing that happens as you get older.” Now, she and her partner play games and go for walks together – it’s made her feel important again.
McNamara says the survey results underscore the prevalence of poor social health, which includes the interconnections between social isolation, access to transportation, financial security, and health outcomes.
“If you don’t have that person to help you, and you also don’t have transportation, you’re not going to have that person to drive you to doctor’s appointments, give you access to food, and actually get you into your community and visit other people and stay social,” says McNamara.
Loneliness puts people at risk of poor mental and physical health. Isolation, which can lead to feelings of loneliness, also puts people at immediate risk when they do not have a reliable contact in an emergency. The report reiterates this risk, finding that loneliness increases the risk of an emergency room visit by two times, and severe loneliness does so by three times.
“If you don’t have that outlet, you tend to seek crisis care,” says McNamara, and not having someone to rely on can increase the chances of forgetting medications and appointments, not adhering to doctor’s recommendations, or having an accident. At home alone. “Things escalate to the point where you have to go to the emergency department.”
The survey indicates the need to prioritize medical examinations directed at identifying social health needs such as food, transportation, and access to health care, along with social cohesion. Health care providers should ask older adults if they have someone they can easily reach in times of need, according to Papa.
“We need interventions to address social health at all levels,” says McNamara. “Just like we deal with any other health condition. We need testing. We need prevention, and we need different types of treatment.”