Loneliness is becoming increasingly common among older individuals in the U.S. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as many as 33% of those over the age of 45 regularly struggle with social isolation and loneliness.
Even though you may feel like you are busier than ever, you have some very good reasons for not ignoring an elderly loved one’s loneliness. Here are three of them.
It is not uncommon for those who are struggling with loneliness to experience a variety of physical and mental health ailments. In addition to being vulnerable to premature death, lonely individuals are at greater risk of each of the following:
- Anxiety, depression and even suicide
- Heart attack
If your relative is already experiencing a decline in his or her mental or physical well-being, loneliness is likely to exacerbate the problem. Fortunately, taking steps to stop loneliness can reduce its long-term negative health effects.
2. Estate planning
Lonely individuals may be looking for friendship, regardless of how it looks. If your loved one is writing a will or preparing other estate planning documents, loneliness may make him or her vulnerable to undue influence. That is, your relative may allow an unscrupulous person to take control.
3. Your future
If isolation is interfering with the way your loved one thinks, he or she may decide to disinherit you. This may be true regardless of whether your relative is dealing with undue influence. Naturally, disinheriting you may make a considerable difference in your future, as you may miss out on wealth you otherwise likely would have received.
Ultimately, by increasing your visits and phone calls, you probably can protect your elderly loved one from the many negative consequences that often accompany social isolation.