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Posted by Positive Aging Community on 05/27/2022

Are You Lonely?

Are You Lonely?

As a Care Manager and Social Worker with more than 30 years of experience, I have conducted a myriad of assessments and have asked many questions over the years. Yet, it wasn’t until I read John T. Cacioppo’s and William Patrick’s book Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection that I realized I needed to add this critical question to my assessments.

Are you lonely?

I decided to plunge into the topic of loneliness in older adults and was intrigued by studies both in the United States and in other countries. The research is clear that older adults are experiencing loneliness and the negative impact that it can have on their medical and mental health at pandemic proportions.

One study on loneliness found that time spent with a friend, neighbor or peer was more enjoyable than time spent with family. Sadly, the value of meaningful interpersonal connection is often minimized in our society.

The consequence of loneliness is striking. Older adults who report being lonely are more likely to go into a nursing home, have more difficulties with the activities of daily living, and experience more rapid progression of Alzheimer’s.

Undoubtedly, these studies on loneliness can assist us in creating solutions, programs, services and environments to alleviate loneliness in older adults.

Inspired by the work of Cacioppo and Patrick along with these studies, I created a presentation on the topic: One Really is the Loneliest Number!

The presentation covers three Social Work CEUs and focuses on how to identify, assess and alleviate the negative impacts of loneliness in older adults.

Loneliness is preventable. Prevention requires not only asking the question but also devising a plan to alleviate the loneliness. 

As Care Managers, we are uniquely qualified to create care plans and solutions to reduce the impact of loneliness. These care plans are individualized to meet the unique needs and circumstances of each client.

As care managers, we work with our clients to begin the process of transforming a situation or circumstance that negatively impacts their life by helping to envision what life would be like by accomplishing a change. Imagine a life without loneliness.

by Mary Ann Buckley, LCSW-C, C-ASWCM

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