Isolation In A Time Of Need


If you’re an older adult, in the midst of an emergency, do you have someone you could call for help? If it’s a parent or loved one, how confident are you they have someone nearby to assist them?

Isolation is a common feeling among many older adults, and can affect every facet of life. The mental health toll is significant, and isolation is even linked to physical effects, including heart disease, stroke and even dementia.

But there’s another practical concern that comes with isolation: how does someone get help in an emergency or a time of need?

Emergencies can come in all forms – whether it’s a large-scale event like a natural disaster, or something affecting just the individual older adult, like a fall or sudden health concern, it’s vital to have people nearby to help.

If you or a loved one is in that situation, this blog will contain help and ideas for building your network, so that hopefully you have someone you can call on when you need it.

Isolation Among Older Adults

Before we delve into those solutions, it’s important to understand how and why many older adults are isolated, as it’s a very common issue in that demographic.

As the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention notes in the article linked above, “A report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) points out that more than one-third of adults aged 45 and older feel lonely, and nearly one-fourth of adults aged 65 and older are considered to be socially isolated.”

There are a variety of reasons so many older adults report a feeling of isolation. If someone’s spouse or partner passes away, they may find themselves living alone for the first time since they were young. Family members, friends and other loved ones may pass as well.

Their children and grandchildren may live in a different city, or even if they are nearby, can be so busy with their own lives that it can be difficult to see them regularly.

In addition, for many older adults, as their health and mobility deteriorate, it gets harder to go out and meet others. When once days might have been filled with coffee dates, walks or book clubs, it may be harder to engage in those kinds of activities, particularly if an older adult isn’t able to drive.

With time, their world can shrink, and isolation sets in.

Finding Help For A Time Of Need

According to Fortune Magazine, “…three in five people are either lonely or extremely lonely, based on UCLA’s 3-point loneliness scale. The report also found one in five people don’t have anyone they can lean on in case of emergency, and 40% of respondents find it somewhat difficult or very difficult to find social support.”

If that’s you or a loved one, there are ways to change course. Here are just a couple of things to consider:

  • Raise your hand. Have you ever been in a group setting, maybe in school or at work, had a question about something, but were afraid to ask? Then someone else raised their hand and asked that question, and you felt relieved that you weren’t the only one in that situation? The same applies here. If you’re struggling with isolation, odds are other older adults are too. Talk to friends and neighbors to see if anyone else feels the same way, and make a plan to mutually help each other.
  • Tell your family. Many older adults are reluctant to discuss their concerns with their family as it can be an uncomfortable topic. But doing so can help your loved ones better understand your concerns and help create a plan for when a time of need emerges. It’s particularly important if family lives out of town that a plan be in place should a time of need occur.
  • Crowd source for help. No we’re not talking about a GoFundMe. But if your family lives out of town, and you don’t have a robust social network nearby, try visiting a local seniors center. They might have resources available to help connect you with other people in the same situation, or experts who can help you get started.
  • Talk to your doctor. No, there’s no prescription for isolation, but a doctor may have knowledge about support groups for people dealing with isolation, or be able to point you towards a service or provider with that information. You never know what kind of resources a medial network might have available, so there’s no harm in asking.

What To Have Available In Case Of Emergency

There are certain things you or a loved one can do to help those assisting you during an emergency, be they first responders or a friend or loved one. Among the ways you can prepare include:

  • Ensuring your house number is clearly visible from the street.
  • Letting someone close to you know if you’re going out of town, along with the address and phone number of where you’re staying.
  • Telling a family member or loved one if there are any recent changes to your health, so emergency personnel may know what courses of treatment to take.
  • Creating a document or file with vital information and letting a trusted family member or friend know where it is in case of emergency. That document should include:
  • Name
    • Phone number
    • Address
    • Social security number
    • Allergies
    • Any medications you’re taking
    • Basic health history
    • Medical insurance information
    • Doctors’ names & phone numbers
    • Contact information your Power of Attorney
    • Medical wishes, such as whether lifesaving measures should be taken

How Prestige Senior Living Can Help

If you or a loved one is finding that isolation is causing mental, or even physical, distress, it may be time to consider a move to a Prestige Senior Living community. We offer social environments where our teams help foster bonds among residents.

Along with the social aspect, our care teams are always up-to-date on changes to a resident’s health, and work in tandem with their medical providers to ensure they are getting the day-to-day care they need. With health services teams and medication management, we help residents stay healthy and thrive.

And of course, our teams help ensure residents get the care they need if or when an emergency occurs. We have meticulous records of our residents’ health histories, and vital paperwork on file in the event it’s needed.

To find out how we can help, visit the Prestige community nearest you to schedule a tour. While you’re visiting, you can meet our teams and learn more about how we help residents overcome isolation and ensure they have all the care they need during an emergency.