The Health Impact of Isolation on Older Adults

The Health Impact of Isolation on Older Adults

When it comes to healthy aging, quite honestly, there’s a lot to do. You’re supposed to make sure to keep your body active and your brain engaged all while maintaining your social connections as well. Sure, the benefits to your overall well-being are worth the effort, but retirement is supposed to be a time with less responsibility on your plate, right? Well, it turns out that in senior living you can have your cake and eat it too, so to speak. Here’s how programs like our Vivid Life make keeping active, engaged, and connected easy and fun! 

Benefits of Healthy Aging 

Good things happen when you focus on healthy aging. In addition to feeling better overall, which in and of itself is a win, other benefits of keeping active, engaged, and connected include:  

  • Improved ability to do everyday things ​ 
  • Reduced impact of illness and chronic disease​ 
  • Enhanced mobility, flexibility, and balance
  • Improved sleep
  • Increased energy level
  • Reduced feelings of depression and stress
  • Increased feelings of happiness and self-confidence
  • Reduced risk of cognitive decline 
  • Increased mental adaptability and cognitive reserve 
  • Improved memory recall and problem-solving skills 
  • Improved concentration and attention to detail  

How Senior Living Can Help 

At home, particularly when living alone, it can be hard to stay as active, engaged, and connected as you’d like. From lack of opportunity to lack of motivation to lack of transportation to mobility challenges, and more, it’s tough, we get it! That’s why we created the Vivid Life program in our senior living communities. It’s composed of three parts: Vibrant Body, Vibrant Brain, and Vibrant Connections. Here’s what each entails:  

Vibrant Body We offer amenities such as a state-of-the-art fitness center, a pool, walking trails, gardening opportunities, and even a dog park to help you stay active. A sample of activities includes:  

  • Walking club – Daily walks at different outdoor locations using pedometers to measure steps. 
  • Yoga – At least once per week for gentle yoga, and once per week for mindful breathing. 
  • Fitness classes – At least two times per week using a variety of hand weights, resistance bands, and circuit-type exercises. 
  • Tai Chi – At least once per week with a live instructor. 
  • Non-traditional exercise – Dancing, gardening, etc. at least two times per week. 
  • Physical games and sports – Golf, putting, bowling, croquet, bocce, and ping pong available daily with organized events one to two times per week. 

Vibrant Brain We offer monthly calendars filled with classes, events, creative arts, and enrichment opportunities to help keep you engaged. A sample of activities includes: 

  • Visiting lecture series – Twice per month with topics such as cultural, historical, local interest, career-oriented, etc. 
  • Creative art series – At least one per week with a theme that runs 3-6 weeks, such as poetry writing, storytelling, painting, digital photography, etc. 
  • Learning series – At least three times per month with an emphasis on learning something new such as foreign language, sign language, technology, hobbies, etc. 
  • Games – At least one time per week and may include poker, bridge, Scrabble, etc. 
  • Mindfulness – A meditation class once per week and gratitude discussion group twice monthly. 
  • Church service – At least once a week through visits by local churches. 
  • Stress reduction – At least once per month class that offers deep breathing exercises, nature walks, music appreciation, spa-type treatments, etc. 

 Vibrant Connections We offer resident-led clubs, social events, outings and volunteer opportunities for any interest to help you stay connected. A sample of activities includes: 

  • Outings – At least twice per month and may include going to concerts, art shows, museum visits, theatre productions, etc. 
  • Intergenerational programming – At least once per month and focuses on building relationships between young adults/children and residents. 
  • New resident welcome party – At least once per month to formally introduce all new residents, and includes ice breakers, social games, etc. to encourage connection. 
  • Philanthropic program – At least once per month provide residents the opportunity to give back to the community, such as volunteering for a local food bank or pet shelter. 
  • Resident-led clubs – May include game clubs, professional clubs, common interests, etc. that meet at least monthly.  

What’s more, it’s all right outside your door (or transportation is provided offsite) and all in a supportive environment with home maintenance, housekeeping, and restaurant-style dining freeing your time to make it even easier to stay active, engaged, and connected. 

Learn more about Vitality Living’s Vivid Life programs. Or find a Vitality Living community near you today to schedule a tour. 



There is growing concern among aging experts about the negative health impact of isolation and loneliness on older adults. Though technically speaking isolation and loneliness are separate conditions, obvious connections exist between the two.

Loneliness is considered to be a subjective experience, a perception that one is alone. Isolation is a measurable and objective state of living. The distinction isn’t very significant when it comes to our older loved ones. That’s because even the perception of loneliness can lead to health problems, such as depression and premature death.

By learning more about the health impact of isolation on older adults, we can work to reduce it.

The Need for Companionship is Universal

People need people is something of a cliché, but one that has merit. No one can thrive in isolated conditions. This is one of the universal truths about human nature, and one that doesn’t change as we grow older.

Whether they’re 10, 50, or 100 years old, human beings are social creatures who suffer a variety of negative effects if they become too isolated. Without a doubt, everyone needs alone time. When the occasional few hours of solitude becomes true isolation, however, the health effects can be significant.

Unfortunately, it’s often our senior loved ones who are at the greatest risk of suffering the debilitating effects of isolation. Older adults are more likely to experience loneliness, with one study asserting that 43% of persons over the age of 65 report feeling lonely.

The Health Impact of Isolation in Older Adults

A few of the negative health outcomes that are associated with isolation in older adults include:

  • Cardiovascular disease: Isolated older adults are more likely to develop cardiovascular problems than those who are engaged with a social network. The severity of these diseases also increases.
  • Dementia: Seniors who are isolated are significantly more likely to develop dementia than those who are socially connected.
  • Mobility problems: Mobility is both a cause and a consequence of isolation. Difficulty getting around can cause an older adult to become isolated. And isolation can then lead to greater mobility problems and decreased independence.
  • Nursing care: Research shows isolated seniors are more likely to require earlier admission to nursing care communities.
  • Falls: Older adults who are isolated often live a more sedentary life. This puts them at increased risk for debilitating falls.
  • Depression: Isolation is also associated with increased risk of severe depression among older adults.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of the damaging health effects of isolation on older adults, but it does help demonstrate the depth of the problem.

Hope Going Forward

Fortunately, the negative effects of isolation on the physical and emotional health of older adults are now being taken much more seriously than they were in the past. In fact, one of the nation’s largest insurance companies has recently established a program that treats isolation in older adults as a serious health condition.

Along with a large set of long term studies that link isolation to poor health outcomes in older adults, this initiative signals a new and more holistic approach to caring for seniors.

The Benefits of Assisted Living

One of these solutions might be an assisted living community. These communities are designed to balance privacy and independence with companionship and effective care.

Vitality Senior Living invites you to come see the social aspect of assisted living for yourself. Please contact us to schedule an in-person tour of one of our communities.

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