When the United Kingdom appointed a minister of loneliness back in 2018, chuckles could be heard around the globe. Fast-forward to 2020 and the age of COVID, and no one’s laughing anymore. In fact, many countries including Canada are facing rising rates of loneliness and social isolation, with pandemic protocols continuing through winter and into the new year.
Already seniors living alone during a pandemic are particularly feeling the pain of not being able to spend quality time with family and friends or participate in their favourite social activities. Sure, older adults are using technology a lot more these days to keep in touch with loved ones, but let’s face it, connecting remotely isn’t nearly as fulfilling as the real thing.
Unfortunately, lack of meaningful social connections can take a great toll on seniors’ health and well-being. The effects can sometimes snowball into significant medical conditions. Below is a snapshot of how loneliness and social isolation can impact older adults, followed by a look at why independent living makes for a safe and secure option.
The slippery slope to loneliness and poor health
While social distancing and other safety measures help protect vulnerable populations from COVID-19, they come with a high cost. Indeed, a recent survey found that the pandemic has fuelled an epidemic of loneliness and social isolation.
Specific studies have found:
- Older adults who reported feeling lonely or socially isolated exhibited poorer cognitive function four years later;
- Socially active seniors were about twice as likely to avoid a disability in daily living activities than those with low levels of connectivity;
- Social isolation affects men and women in different ways, including putting women at higher risk of high blood pressure(a risk factor for heart disease) and stroke;
- The effects of prolonged isolation equate to smoking 15 cigarettes a day;
On the flipside, a meta-analysis of 148 studies found that greater social connectivity is associated with a 50 per cent reduced risk of early death. With so much proof backing up the importance of socialization in older adults’ lives, the question for the times is: how can seniors safely maintain relationships and a sense of community in the midst of a global pandemic?
A safe and connected solution
Older adults who are increasingly feeling lonely and isolated during the pandemic might now be considering a move to a more social setting. At the same time, though, they might be worried about senior living options in general, with long-term care and assisted living homes still being hit hard by COVID-19 and garnering news headlines.
But there’s another type of senior living that’s proving to be a safe and connected choice. Enter independent living, where residents are empowered to live rich, full, active lives in a clean and supportive space.
PARC Retirement Living, for example, offers a full roster of social programs, a variety of dining options and spacious suites. What’s more, the health and well-being of residents and their families is a top priority, so seniors can feel assured they’re moving into a safe environment at PARC.
The PARC independent living difference
Privately owned and operated, PARC has the freedom to efficiently respond and adapt to unexpected situations and events. As such, the company has become a leader in the fight against COVID-19, successfully keeping all five of its B.C. properties COVID-19-free. That no lockdowns have been issued and residents can freely come and go is a direct result of PARC’s proactive safety steps. More than that, PARC residents remain socially active, thanks to innovations and programs like:
- PARC Family Meetup Centres Equipped with plexiglass shields, comfortable chairs and separate entrances, these pod-like portables provide a safe way for residents and guests to visit
- PARC Family Eatery Recently opened in West Vancouver’s Westerleigh PARC, this modern seven-table venue for residents and their families was designed with COVID-19 protocols in mind
- Al Fresco Dining The summer months saw PARC dining options extend to outdoor spaces, where residents and guests could safely enjoy chef-prepared meals together
- PARC Fit Seniors have fun and keep their body and brain in shape at socially distanced strength training, pole walking, chair yoga and GREY MATTERS classes
- Video Speaker Series Seniors learn about and discuss the psychological and emotional effects of COVID-19 through this five-week series hosted by top Vancouver health experts
- Arts and Culture From painting, knitting and writing, to acting in a drama group, residents are encouraged to tap their inner artist and discover a new hobby
Overall, seniors and their loved ones can feel confident about PARC’s independent living lifestyle, which combines high safety and cleaning standards with social activities and upscale amenities. Add in today’s hot real estate market, and there’s never been a better time for seniors to downsize and make the move to independent living.
So…can an independent living setting provide good defense against the pitfalls of social isolation? You might be pleasantly surprised.
Book a tour today to learn more about life at PARC.