As people age, they may become isolated; and that isolation can lead to depression, according to a recent post from the Straits Times. A study led by Dr. Nadee Goonawardene reveals that seniors living alone are most at risk for mental health issues like depression.

The Struggle with Social Isolation

Elderly people often live alone, especially after the death of a spouse. Their children may have moved away, or may be too busy with their own lives to come and visit often. These elderly individuals do not work any longer, so they don’t have a reason to leave their home except for essentials, so they may go for days without seeing or speaking to anyone.

That’s where social isolation begins. Having little contact with other human beings can lead a person into sadness, loneliness, and depression. As the depression deepens, the desire to get outside, get some fresh air, and interact with people becomes less and less powerful. It becomes a vicious cycle. The loneliness turns into depression, and the depression keeps the person isolated and lonely.

Seniors often struggle with physical ailments that make it difficult to get out and walk, go shopping, or catch the train to visit a friend. Their physical condition keeps them isolated and worsens their mental health.

The 2016 Study of Isolated Seniors

Dr. Nadee Goonawardene, along with others, conducted a study about social isolation and Singapore’s seniors. The study began in March of 2016 and surveyed the lives of 46 seniors, between the ages of 61 and 93. All of the seniors were Marine Parade residents, living alone. Of those 46, seven people were identified as being socially and emotionally isolated.

According to the study, those who were socially isolated spent more time napping, more time sitting in the living room, and more time indoors than the rest of the seniors in the study. As part of the research, all the seniors involved in the project were visited and questioned about their daily lives and habits, as well as their social activity and their feelings of loneliness.

The findings gathered through the study were delivered to Montfort Care, a charitable organisation that runs a Marine Parade senior activity centre. The researchers hope their efforts will lead to greater outreach to socially isolated seniors. Since the end of the study, volunteers and social workers from the activity centre have reached out to those seven isolated individuals, trying to draw them out and reconnect them with people and with the world.

Help for Seniors Living in Isolation

Do you suspect that an elderly loved one may be suffering from social isolation and depression? In addition to visiting your senior family members more often, you may also encourage depressed individuals to make an appointment at Adelphi Psych Medicine Clinic. With the help of our psychiatrists in Singapore and counsellors at our clinic, your loved ones may be able to overcome the debilitating cycle of isolation and enrich his or her life quickly by rejoining society again.

News Feed from Adelphi Psych Medicine Clinic

Source: Straits Times, 2 May 2017