Loneliness and Mental Health

Angie SzumlinskiHealth, Studies

Okay already, we have all been bombarded with research on how loneliness impacts overall health. We have all lived through “lockdowns” in our centers where we watched our residents on a slippery slope of decline, obviously related to being separated from their families. Isn’t what we have learned and lived been enough? Nope, another research study published in Neurology is adding to our angst!

The good news is that the study did not focus on nursing homes or assisted living centers; it focused primarily on anyone who could be lonely. What they were looking at was the relationship of loneliness with developing signs and symptoms of dementia. Well after 10 years of close clinical dementia surveillance, the study found that loneliness was associated with an increased risk of dementia.

There were other factors in the study, however, what I found really interesting was that being lonely tripled the risk of dementia in adults who had a baseline risk that was considered relatively low based on age and genetic risk factors. Wow! That is pretty impactful! So happy visitation is opened up and our residents have a chance to be social and hopefully not “lonely.” Might be a good time to have your social service staff assess each resident to determine if additional resources, activities, visits, etc. would assist in addressing loneliness and possibly prevent declines!

Stay the course, stay informed, and stay well!