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The Spiral Downward

Excerpt from Daily Cures, Wisdom for Healthy Aging by Connie Mason Michaelis




I hate to sound repetitious, but for those of you who read my column regularly, you know that one of my recurring messages is the problem of isolation.  Today’s world is drastically different than the world our senior generation experienced growing up.  A good illustration of that is the absence of front porches in today’s residential construction.  How often do you see a new home being built with a big front porch for neighborhood socialization?  I can tell you that every home I lived in as a kid, including the farmhouse, had a front porch.  Today, the emphasis is on patios in the backyard for privacy.   Isolation is more prevalent today.  When seniors become isolated because of being widowed, children moving away, health issues, driving restrictions, neighborhood decline, etc, a definite pattern evolves.  The downward spiral begins.

 

Loneliness has many symptoms, but it certainly can cause depression.  Depression can lead to sleep pattern changes, which may lead to insomnia. That may cause a pattern of sleeping late the next day.  This could result in meal habits changing and medications being missed.  When medications are mismanaged, the wheels fall off!   Adverse drug reactions are one of the five leading reasons for hospital admissions.  Medication problems are only one of many possible effects of isolation.  Living in a community is a cure for loneliness.  Even for the individual who prefers privacy and is non-social, the rhythm of community life still encourages getting up for breakfast and becoming active. Community life is not just for extroverts.  We often see the reverse spiral when residents move and become accustomed to the new tempo of community life.  Isolation and loneliness are health threats, and a senior community may be the answer!

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