Among the many stereotypes associated with senior living communities is the perception that residents are lonelier than they would be if they remained living in their homes. Cut off from family members and friends—this common assumption maintains—older adults will unavoidably experience the detrimental effects of social isolation. But being apart from loved-ones is not limited to senior individuals living in nursing homes. Indeed, loneliness can occur anywhere.
Research shows that average Americans age 60 and older spend more than half their waking hours completely alone. For those living by themselves, that equates to roughly ten hours a day without any social contact. It’s no wonder that many older adults report feeling lonely or isolated. And there are reasons for their families to be concerned.
Loneliness often corresponds to adverse health issues among seniors, such as depression, dementia, cardiovascular disease, and other disorders. Furthermore, there is significant scientific evidence indicating that social isolation dramatically increases the risk of dying prematurely, regardless of the underlying cause of death.
While social isolation and loneliness can happen to anyone at any age, older adults often face predisposing factors such as a spouse’s passing, retirement, suffering from a chronic illness, or developing cognitive impairments. Despite the side effects of isolation, many older adults would rather live alone at home than risk losing their independence in a nursing home.
A Different Mindset
At Sunset, we know that maintaining connections with others helps older adults avoid loneliness while allowing them to enjoy their independence. We encourage individuals to engage with others through our countless social events, educational classes, and informal get-togethers. We also find innovative and enriching ways to link residents with people outside our communities. As a result, Sunset residents can live on their own without forgoing continuing contact with other people.
For many lonely seniors, moving to Sunset can be a positive life-altering experience. We offer residents opportunities to make new friends, socialize with their neighbors within comfortable living and dining areas, and connect to the world around them.
The companionship residents discover at Sunset gives their lives renewed purpose and helps restore the vitality lost by spending too much time alone. With a rekindled love of life, their physical and mental health often improves.
Experts describe loneliness as a state of mind. Therefore, being physically alone is not always enough to cause someone to feel isolated. But our experience tells us that long stretches without human contact lead to loneliness, and we make it our mission to combat loneliness by connecting people.