Aging Life Care Association® Survey Finds Majority of Older Adults Suffer from Loneliness

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Aging Life Care Managers® Can Help Offset Loneliness and Subsequent Issues

It is well established that social isolation and loneliness in adults can contribute to several serious health problems, and even lead to death.

Aging Life Care Managers® have witnessed an increase in loneliness since the onset of the COVID19 pandemic. As explained by Dr. Julianne Holt-Lundstad, a leading researcher in the field of social connection stated loneliness can occur in older adults whether they are alone at home or in an assisted-living facility in her closing session “The Science of Staying Connected - A Continued Call to Action” at the 2021 n4a Conference and Tradeshow. One doesn’t have to be alone to be lonely.

The Aging Life Care Association® - the professional association of Aging Life Care Managers (ALCA) – recently conducted an internal survey of its members to get a sense of how many of their clients are socially isolated and/or experiencing loneliness. The results were clear -- 94% of Aging Life Care Managers’ clients experienced a significant jump in loneliness since the onset of the COVID19 pandemic and stay-at-home orders began.

While the majority of clients live alone, Aging Life Care Managers’ clients living in a long-term facility experienced greater cases of loneliness during the pandemic. This can be attributed to several issues: frustration with technology and lack of visits from family or friends due to facility restrictions.

The majority of clients displaying signs of loneliness were rarely visited by family (40%) and even for those whose family visited either physically or virtually also showed high rates of loneliness (29%).

Additionally, half of Aging Life Care Managers had clients who were not tech savvy and a third had none or less than 25% clients who were tech savvy; indicating that while the baby boomers are aging, the majority of older adults needing care management services are not tech savvy and thus increasing potential for loneliness.

Of those tech savvy clients, 69% used video chat programs but 77% experienced frustration with them. With the fast adoption of the video program Zoom, for personal and professional reasons, 32% of clients used zoom, with Facebook’s Facetime as the next popular program (29%). Also alarming is that 90% of Aging Life Care Managers have clients with mental health issues. Having an Aging Life Care Manager could help many of these clients as they can refer them to mental health professionals or other specialists who could help with issues related to loneliness (alcohol/drug abuse, dietitians, financial planners, etc.)

For more on how an Aging Life Care Manager can help older adults alleviate the burdens of social isolation and loneliness visit aginglifecare.org.

About Aging Life Care Association
The Aging Life Care Association® (ALCA) was formed in 1985, originally as the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers, to advance dignified, coordinated care for older adults in the United States. With nearly 2000 members nationwide, members have cared for about two million older adults over its history. ALCA Members are distinguished from others practicing care management as they must meet stringent education, experience, and certification requirements. Members may be trained in any of number of fields including, but not limited to counseling, gerontology, mental health, nursing, occupational therapy, physical therapy, psychology, or social work; with a specialized focus on issues related to aging and elder care. For more information or to access a nationwide directory of Aging Life Care Professionals, please visit http://www.aginglifecare.org.

SOURCES:

CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/aging/publications/features/lonely-older-adults.html#:~:text=Poor%20social%20relationships%20(characterized%20by,32%25%20increased%20risk%20of%20stroke.&text=Loneliness%20was%20associated%20with%20higher,depression%2C%20anxiety%2C%20and%20suicide.

NIH: https://www.nia.nih.gov/news/social-isolation-loneliness-older-people-pose-health-risks

Aging Life Care Journal: https://www.aginglifecarejournal.org/health-effects-of-social-isolation-and-loneliness/

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Julie Wagner
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