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Why Aging Alone is a Growing Public Health Risk

lonely older man's back

The kids are grown. Retirement is a reality or within shouting distance. Nothing left to do but get this active adult party started. And nobody does it better than the Baby Boomers.

Just as they did decades ago, America’s huge group of Baby Boomers are profoundly impacting the culture of their present, redefining what it means to be a senior. Far from passively observing from the sidelines, the former activists of the 60s are actively pursuing the good life as older adults.

One is the Loneliest Number

The good news is there are more and more people living longer and enjoying a better quality of life than ever before. The not so good news: The number of Baby Boomers aging alone without close friends or family around is staggering and continues to increase.

Statistics point to about one in 11 Americans over 50 growing old without a spouse, partner or living child. That translates to roughly eight million aging people who lack the support of close family. With social isolation responsible for an estimated $6.7 billion dollars of Medicare costs per year, policy experts have concerns about boomers straining the federal budget.

Loneliness Stresses the Body, Mind, and Spirit

Burdening the body in a way that is similar to stress, loneliness raises cortisol levels, which impairs immune responses and contributes to inflammation, mental illness and chronic conditions like heart disease and diabetes. It is as closely linked to early mortality as smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day or consuming more than six alcoholic drinks per day. And according to a study published in the Journal of American Medical Association Psychiatry, loneliness may also be a factor in brain changes associated with preclinical Alzheimer’s disease.

Another interesting study indicated that loneliness is not only debilitating for seniors, it is self-perpetuating. The lonelier the person, the more they tend to isolate themselves by disengaging and pushing people away.

Active Adult Living: The Antidote to Loneliness

There are definitely ways to stave off loneliness later in life. For example, it is clear older adults will reap huge benefits from healthy social interaction. Physical activity is critical to maintaining physical and mental health. Taking classes will stimulate the brain and help keep seniors interested and engaged.

But all of those solutions require access to like-minded peers. Or transportation. Or motivation. And there you have the reason active adult communities are becoming the go-to rightsizing option for the over 55 crowd. A community meticulously designed with the specific needs of 55+ active adults in mind offers a complete smorgasbord of anti-loneliness remedies under one roof. Active adult communities focus on every aspect of your, or your loved one’s health and wellbeing. It’s a lifestyle that will both enhance and prolong life as it inspires, involves and invigorates.   

After working hard, raising a family, and paying all those dues, you or your loved one deserves the support of a warm, caring community. Active adult living: The antidote to loneliness.