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Layin’ It on the Line: Social isolation and its effect on quality of life

By Lyle Boss - Special to the Standard-Examiner | Jul 26, 2023

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Lyle Boss

Social isolation can happen to anyone at any age. Many of our young people socially isolate via their cellphones, and it can continue through every stage of life. The impact it can have on us as humans has a direct correlation to the quality of life for individuals experiencing it.

As a state of disconnection and lack of meaningful social interactions, social isolation can lead to various negative consequences that affect a person’s physical, mental and emotional well-being. Here’s how social isolation affects the quality of life:

1. Mental and emotional well-being:

  • Loneliness and depression: Social isolation often leads to feelings of loneliness, which can have a profound impact on mental health. Prolonged loneliness may increase the risk of developing depression, anxiety and other mood disorders.
  • Emotional distress: Isolated individuals may experience heightened emotional distress due to a lack of support systems and opportunities to share their feelings with others.

2. Physical health:

  • Weakened immune system: Chronic social isolation is associated with a weakened immune system, making isolated individuals more susceptible to infections and illnesses.
  • Cardiovascular issues: Social isolation has been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, including hypertension and heart disease.
  • Sleep disturbances: Isolated individuals may experience disrupted sleep patterns, leading to fatigue, reduced immune function and other health problems.

3. Cognitive function:

  • Cognitive decline: Studies have suggested that social isolation is associated with cognitive decline, including problems with memory and thinking skills, especially in older adults.

4. Sense of purpose and meaning:

  • Loss of social roles: Social isolation can result in a loss of social roles, such as being part of a family, friend group or community. This loss can lead to a reduced sense of purpose and meaning in life.

5. Quality of relationships:

  • Fewer social connections: Isolated individuals have fewer opportunities to form meaningful relationships, resulting in a reduced quality of personal connections.
  • Lack of support systems: Socially isolated individuals may lack emotional and practical support during times of difficulty or crisis.

6. Engagement and participation:

  • Reduced engagement: Social isolation can lead to reduced participation in community activities, social events and hobbies, resulting in a less fulfilling life.

7. Longevity and mortality:

  • Higher mortality risk: Social isolation has been associated with a higher risk of premature death. The lack of social connections can have a detrimental impact on overall health and longevity.

Addressing social isolation and improving the quality of life for individuals experiencing it requires family and community support. Implementing community-based programs, fostering intergenerational connections, providing technology training, offering transportation assistance and encouraging social activities are some of the ways to combat social isolation and enhance the overall quality of life for affected individuals.

Recognizing the importance of social connections and implementing strategies to combat social isolation are essential in improving the quality of life and fostering a more connected and supportive society.

How do we help the person out of this dilemma? Here are some ideas and suggestions. Be encouraging of social activities both personal and in their community, provide human contact and support from family and friends. Helping them with technology issues, such as sending an email or how to access the internet, can offer a sense of belonging. Even the little things help, especially any form of human contact. Take them to lunch!

Also, never hesitate to call mental health services for assistance. Here is a good place to start: https://bit.ly/44MC9t2

Lyle Boss, a native Utahn, is a member of Syndicated Columnists, a national organization committed to a fully transparent approach to money management. Boss Financial, 955 Chambers St., Suite 250, Ogden, UT 84403. Telephone: 801-475-9400.


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