It’s no secret that recent events have greatly impacted the elderly population. In addition to potential struggles with basic needs such as the ability to get groceries or medications, social isolation is often an issue that can go unnoticed with seniors. Learn how social isolation impacts the lives of seniors and how they can be helped.
Why seniors struggle with social isolation during COVID
While the pandemic impacted people of all ages and from all walks of life, seniors were disproportionately affected. Studies show that 78% of COVID-19 related deaths in the U.S. occurred among older adults age 65 and over. Older adults are the segment of the population most vulnerable in this pandemic, largely due to their weaker immune systems and a higher likelihood of having a chronic health condition. Because of this, many older adults opted to practice social distancing (and in some cases, such as retirement homes, it was mandated) leading to increased social isolation. Even after vaccines were made available, hesitant seniors, as well as their caregivers, continued to encourage limited social interactions to keep elderly people safe. These good intentions may keep seniors’ physical health protected but may have profound impacts in other areas.
How social isolation impacts mental health among the elderly
There are marked consequences to social isolation, and the elderly population, in particular, is vulnerable to these consequences. According to the CDC, extreme loneliness significantly increased a person’s risk of premature death from all causes, a risk that rivals those of smoking, obesity, and physical inactivity. In addition, social isolation was associated with about a 50% percent increased risk of dementia, depression, anxiety, and suicide. As mental illness and the discussions surrounding such issues becomes more publicly discussed, people are becoming more aware of such risks. As a result, there has been a purposeful movement to engage the elderly to ensure they don’t struggle from such issues during the pandemic. Such activities, in addition to ensuring that older adults have their basic needs of food, shelter, and medication addressed, give people the impression that seniors are now protected against the extenuating circumstances brought about by the pandemic. Unfortunately, that’s not entirely true.
How the elderly are struggling financially during the pandemic
Because of limited interaction during the pandemic, many caretakers and adult children of senior adults may not recognize the signs that seniors are struggling financially. When interaction was uninhibited, it was easier to spot unpaid bills, unopened mail, and unusual financial transactions in banking or investment accounts. Without day-to-day oversight, it’s easier for such issues to go unnoticed until the damage is done. There has been an increase in coronavirus scams targeting older Americans. A series of studies by NCOA illustrates a common trend: older adults are seeing a decrease in total net wealth and are taking on greater debts.
More common are the day-to-day activities that negatively impact the finances of seniors, such as bill paying. While many may be struggling because of reduced finances, more are simply overwhelmed with activities such as managing bill payments due to being overwhelmed from social isolation. Many older people have remained isolated from loved ones who might be the first to notice unpaid bills or unopened bank notices. With no end in sight for such circumstances, caretakers and adult children of aging parents need options to ensure that such basic tasks are addressed, and red flags are caught early. Using a professional bill paying service such as Bill Simplicity can help. Bill paying services can handle all aspects of bill paying and keep family members and trusted professionals informed on all bill paying activities. The service can provide notifications when a new bill has arrived, or an upcoming payment is being sent out. They can also send alerts when a bill needs attention or has been flagged for additional review. All of these benefits can protect seniors during this difficult time.
Social isolation during COVID can impact seniors in several ways. Seeking out options such as professional bill management services can help protect seniors and their financial responsibilities during these trying times.