To help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus among vulnerable populations, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is advising adults age 60 and older to stay at home and avoid crowds.

As important as these guidelines are for keeping older adults safe, the rules may also increase their risk of becoming socially isolated.

For seniors, loneliness and the experience of feeling separated from others has been linked to a variety of health issues.

Just this year, the Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics released a report that linked loneliness with an increased risk of experiencing a fall.

Recent studies also showed that social isolation and dementia may be linked.

The Innovation in Aging journal said that up to 35% of people living with the condition are at risk of becoming socially isolated. The Journals of Gerontology showed that loneliness was associated with a 40% increased risk of developing dementia.

Senior Isolation Linked To Chronic Disease

Over time, the effects of loneliness can be devastating.

The Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging said that long-term social isolation has been linked with health conditions like stroke, coronary heart disease and cognition issues. It’s also been tied to behaviors like smoking, drug and alcohol use, and decreased physical activity.

In a 2017 Harvard Business Review article, former U.S. surgeon general Vivek Murthy referred to these health trends as a “loneliness epidemic.

Unfortunately, with the spread of COVID-19, the loneliness epidemic is only expected to grow.

Preventing Social Isolation in Seniors

Now is perhaps one of the most challenging times in modern history to be a caregiver. With schools and businesses shutting their doors and many in-home services deemed “non-essential,” providing your loved one with the proper level of care and attention is next to impossible.

Many states are also enacting orders that forbid residents from visiting their loved ones, virtually cutting off companionship options for those who need it most.

Staying Social — and Safe

Fortunately, there is a way to keep older adults safe — and socially engaged — during this stressful time.

Florida’s assisted living and memory care communities have the resources and training necessary to look after a loved one when you cannot. In addition to assistance with meal prep, hygiene and other daily care services, communities like Sonata Senior Living also provide 24-hour nursing supervision and “socially distant–appropriate” activities.

To further keep residents socially engaged and prevent loneliness, Sonata Senior Living is helping them get in touch with family and friends via phone, text and video calls. You can follow along on social media with the #SonataSmiles hashtag.

As much as we want our residents to have fun, we also want to keep them safe. To keep it this way, Sonata Senior Living is proactively testing all staff, caregivers and residents for COVID-19 at no cost.

Our enhanced infectious disease prevention and control protocols will continue to evolve based on the recommendations and requirements of the CDC and other federal, state and local public health authorities.

Our signature program, Sonata Safe, assures the health, safety and well-being of our residents and team members. To learn more, contact us today or schedule a virtual tour.

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