Loneliness has become an epidemic in the United States. People no longer live with extended family in multi-generational homes, and the norm has people spreading out into personal space and interacting with others as little as possible. Unfortunately the side effect is rising loneliness – last year 61% of Americans said they felt lonely all or some of the time, up from 54% in 2018. Things are worse for older populations, who feel the sting of loneliness more acutely. The pandemic has just compounded things, making loneliness something you have to do for survival. How is the loneliness epidemic impacting health and well-being?
Under normal circumstances, loneliness can decrease life expectancy by 20 years – more than obesity or alcoholism. 77% of Americans say they lack a support system, and it’s no wonder in a culture where you are supposed to dedicate the majority of your life to working to the point it becomes your identity and then you retire and realize your work colleagues aren’t going to stick around.
The pandemic has also necessitated shutting down nursing homes and adult daycare facilities to prevent the spread to the most vulnerable populations. Unfortunately this compounds health problems.
Adult daycares that have the funding are able to continue to check in on vulnerable patients, taking care of basic needs like groceries, meals, and errands while also providing them with necessary opportunities for human interaction.
Elderly and disabled people who have access to adult daycare experience a decreased rate of hospital admissions, shorter stays when they are admitted, and significant delays in cognitive decline. Cost-wise, adult daycare costs nearly $55k less per year than a nursing home.
Offering remote services during the pandemic is a lifeline for seniors and people living with disabilities. Learn more about the real cost of the loneliness epidemic and how it has been exacerbated during the pandemic from the infographic below.