In our last article, we explored the 5 most common fears that people have regarding the move to a retirement community. And, while they may feel very real, we also saw that science is proving more and more that how we live is much more important than where we live.
This week, we’ll discuss 5 very real dangers of aging. These are bona fide hazards that will reduce the quality and shorten the lives of aging people. Like our last article, we’ll see that these are not unique to any one location. They can affect folks living at home or anywhere else.
Isolation is when people disconnect from their normal community of family, friends, and acquaintances. Often isolation happens, because they have experienced limited mobility and no longer get out as often as they used to. Because they find themselves alone more, these folks will lose touch with the world they once knew.
Isolation by itself is only the beginning. The real damage happens as people move beyond it to more serious problems. By separating themselves from others they set the stage for other, more serious issues. This is where decline moves from possible to likely.
Loneliness often follows isolation. This is the “forgotten” feeling that we talked about in the last article. Loneliness bring people to question their value to others and the world around them. They can begin to doubt the impact they’ve had on the lives of others and, soon, begin so see themselves as worthless or, worse yet, a burden.
Another insidious aspect of loneliness is emotional starvation. Lacking positive emotional support from other human beings leaves people hungry for attention. This hunger can often drive the lonely to irrational and drastic behavior. Finally, if they have hungered for love long enough they will likely move on to the next danger on our list. This is where decline moves from likely to probable.
Depression is something everyone experiences from time to time. However, when someone has already isolated himself and suffered from loneliness, depression can bring tragic consequences.
By the time people reach depression, they’re at serious risk of giving up all together. They may have abandoned the hope that things will ever get better and, without hope, it can be nearly impossible to make progress. This is where decline moves from probable to inevitable.
Illness is often the byproduct of depression. Like the symptom of a larger disease, chronic illness seems to befall depressed people. It’s as if the body starts to believe the hopelessness of the heart and simply shut down.
Unexplainable infections begin to show up in their nervous and respiratory systems. Conditions they have endured for years will “flare up” causing intense pain in their limbs. Colds become bronchitis which becomes pneumonia and, soon, they become critical. It’s not only bacteria and viruses that make people sick. Attitude and desire to live on play a large role in the length and quality of their lives.
Like illness, injury is a likely companion to isolation, loneliness, and depression. When there’s no one around to look in on people because they’ve isolated themselves, the possibility of serious injury increases. Small things become big things without the proper help needed to deal with them.
Tragically, once they’ve made it to loneliness or all the way to depression, the likelihood of incurring or even causing serious injury is much greater. A severe fall can open the door to infection and aggravate conditions such as arthritis or fiber myalgia. It can even lead to stroke or other debilitating events.
OK, now that we’ve explored those 5 dangers, we need to ask ourselves this very important question:
Where are we most likely to avoid the dangers of isolation, loneliness, depression, illness and injury?
Since we know that where we live is not as important as how we live, this is where we get real with ourselves and consider the practical aspects of our own aging process.The important thing to remember is that the choice is yours is you make it soon enough. Just because others have chosen to allow these conditions to steal away their joy and longevity, doesn’t mean that you have to.
Are you better off on your own? Or are you better off being surrounded by people who can provide the kind of emotional and physical support you will need to live a long, healthy, and happy life? Not sure what to do? Contact Us at the Hillandale Family of Communities. We’ll be glad to buy you lunch and tell you whatever you want to know.