The Science Behind It
Learn about what scientific studies say about some of the challenges that older adults face.
Research has shown that loneliness and social correspond with higher risks for high blood pressure, heart pressure, heart disease, obesity, anxiety, depression, cognitive decline, and even death.
Moreover, loneliness drastically reduces the quality of life of our older adults. It can be dreadful for these individuals to be unable to communicate and socialize with their loved ones. This toll begins to affect every facet of their life.
Dr. Stephanie Cacioppo, an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience at the University of Chicago, has stated, "The misery and suffering caused by chronic loneliness are very real and warrant attention. As a social species, we are accountable to help our lonely parents, neighbors, and even strangers. Treating loneliness is our collective responsibility."
Lacking a Sense of Purpose
There are a large number of scientific studies that focus on the idea of purpose in life for older adults. Research repeatedly demonstrates that a lack of purpose corresponds with increased mortality for older adults.
Conversely, studies have shown that individuals with medium to high purpose in life have significantly lower health care utilization and expenditures, increases preventative services compliance, and higher quality of life. Additionally, purpose of life is strongly associated with improved mental and physical health outcomes. Therefore, interventions to improve and/or maintain higher levels of purpose in life over time may promote successful aging.
Research has shown that negative stereotypes about aging, or any disparaging beliefs about older adults as a category, have been linked to increased rates of physical and cognitive decline as well as increased mortality. This statement is not only supported by large cohort surveys but also lab data demonstrating cellular changes.
Additionally, the social psychological perspective focuses on the role that individuals will choose not to interact with older adults due to the negative stereotypes associated with aging. This further isolates our elderly population and places increased stress on this vulnerable demographic.