Isolation in the general public has huge ramifications, but is even more escalated in the elderly. Being lonely can impact the brain, heart and even cause death. Almost ½ of women over 75 are living alone. Neglect and abandonment is a health issue that we can design communities and institutions to effectively deal with. The question is when will this happen?
It is remarkable that China has had to institute “Protection of Rights and Interests of the Aged” law that states adult children should visit their elderly parents every 1-2 months. Many of us caregivers try to help our parents age in place. Yet, the isolation of being alone may not be the best choice. Moving to a retirement facility may improve verbal skills, increase nutrition, decrease loneliness, increase mental acuity, and increase physical interactions and exercise. Adult children need to stay involved in their parents’ lives, know housing options, and help parents make good choices.