Non-medical Senior Care Strategies to Improve Social Wellness
Today’s post reviews research from the Journal of Aging and Health underscoring the need for non-medical senior care strategies to enhance social wellness among elderly populations. Read on to learn the benefits of objective and subjective social support, as well as how Always Best Care Greater Milwaukee can help you secure these benefits for your loved one.
The Importance Of Social Wellness For Seniors
Much has been written about the damaging effects that social isolation and loneliness have on psychological well-being and physical health, especially among retired and elderly populations.
Social isolation is defined as the physical separation from other people (Tomaka et al., 2006, p. 359). This occurs most frequently among seniors who are living alone or in rural geographic areas, though it also applies to those whose limited mobility keeps them confined to the “private sphere.”
In contrast, loneliness is defined as a more subjective feeling of being disconnected from others, where the individual experiences an “unfavorable balance between actual and desired social contact.” (Tomaka et al., 2006, p. 359). So while social isolation and loneliness may be closely related, they are interdependent; for example, an elderly person living in an assisted care community may experience loneliness if they do not feel included in the social environment, whereas another senior who is objectively isolated from society may never experience feeling of loneliness (p. 359-360).
The Journal of Aging and Health identifies some of the “toxic aspects of loneliness, isolation, and low support,” noting far-ranging physical, emotional, and mental effects that include:
- Increased risk of depression and anxiety (Tomaka et al., 2006, p. 359);
- Elevated hypothalamic-pituitary activity and release of stress hormone cortisol (p. 362);
- Disruption of sleep patterns (p. 362);
- Altered regulation of blood pressure (p. 362);
- Compromised cardiovascular, neuroendocrine, and immune systems (p. 362), and much more.
For these reasons, ABC Greater Milwaukee has made improving social wellness a focus in our non-medical senior care service.
Social Support Via Non-Medical Senior Care Services
Social support is considered a “natural counterpart to social isolation and loneliness” (Tomaka et al., 2006, p. 361). In an objective sense, we can conceptualize social support as being the literal proximity or availability of social supporters, whether they be family, friends, or one of our ABC caregivers in Brookfield, Wisconsin. On a subjective level, social support is about the individual’s perception of the availability of social resources.
Thus, the protective benefits of social support can only fully realized when they are objectively and subjectively valid. This is why some people can still feel lonely and alienated in assisted living communities where they are surrounded by their peers; simply put, being around socialization doesn’t matter if you don’t feel included.
Since 1996, ABC Greater Milwaukee has been committed to providing holistic social support as part of our non-medical senior care services. To that end, we have helped hundreds of seniors in Brookfield, Wisconsin find “objective” support structures in the form of senior housing communities and relationships with caregivers, and also ensured their subjective feelings of belonging through direct involvement in social activities, escorting clients to events and gatherings, and assisting with social correspondence.
If you’d like to learn more about how to secure your aging loved one’s social wellness through non-medical senior care in Brookfield, Wisconsin, give us a call at 262-721-0765 to book your free consultation.
Tomaka, J., Thompson, S., & Palacios, R. (2006). The relation of social isolation, loneliness, and social support to disease outcomes among the elderly. Journal of Aging and Health, 18(3), 359-384.