Everyone’s experienced some form of loneliness at a point in their lives. Truth be told, we’ve all felt varying degrees of it during the lockdown earlier this year, where we’ve had little opportunity to socialise or venture out of home.
However, the kind of loneliness we want to talk about today is one that can affect various multitudes of one’s health. According to Psychology Today, loneliness can feel draining, distracting and upsetting – unlike desired solitude. Being lonely versus alone are two completely different things. Although loneliness affects people of all ages, we want to consider the health effects of this undesirable emotion in older people, more particularly, the elderly as they are more susceptible to it.
With the projection that almost half (47%) of the population will be at least 65 years old in 3 decades in Singapore, we unpack the detrimental effects loneliness can have on their health. Loneliness is often a precursor, and is underestimated for its role in triggering or amplifying health issues in the elderly.
In our years as insurance brokers, we’ve seen the tremendous help that planning can do for your health and wellness. Starting early always puts you with a peace of mind for next time when you’re older.
Why Is An Aging Population A Problem?
Without a doubt, Singapore’s investment into its healthcare system has paid off. From national-level medical savings schemes like MediSave and MediShield to government subsidies, everyone has access to adequate healthcare services in Singapore.
However, as the population grows to have larger numbers of elderly in the coming years, so does the strain on healthcare resources. Similarly, the changing needs of the elderly over the years will grow to encompass more support – both financially and individually from the younger demographic.
Without adequate resources, helping the elderly battle not only health issues, but also issues that creep in like loneliness, will become harder to do. As the elderly continue spending larger amounts of time unsupervised at home, safeguarding their health can become a real challenge. This is where we want to emphasise the importance of health cover – things like outpatient insurance and gp check-ups can come in handy over a period of time.
What are the health risks of loneliness?
It can be hard to extrapolate the reasons behind loneliness, especially when it’s a concept that is difficult to understand unless lived.
Although not fully explicit in causation, there are many health risks to prolonged loneliness and isolation. And with the elderly at an age risk for more health problems, combating loneliness becomes an important task – remembering that you can take all the necessary steps when you’re young now.
What are some health risks of extended loneliness?
- Premature death
- Heart disease
Likewise, generally, the probability of emergency department visits will also increase. Without adequate coverage in the form of a hospital insurance plan, costs can balloon when you’re older.
Why are the elderly lonely?
There are many reasons for it. Besides the pandemic and the increasing age gap between the elderly and the young accelerated by digitalisation, other natural causes also contribute to loneliness.
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Retirement, the loss of family members, lack of social groups (friends), and even where you stay can be reasons for increased loneliness. Other more common causes include financial difficulties and a lack of independent capability to move around – disallowing those who want to socialise and have friends to have the capacity to.
Managing Loneliness & Its Health Impacts
The first step to managing loneliness is to recognise that it is a natural occurrence. By accepting it, you’ll be more ready to handle it with grace and prepare yourself for when it happens. Because loneliness can have a negative impact on your mental and physical life, it is crucially important to ensure that you are socially and physically engaged. There are a number of ways we can do that.
Joining community groups, exercising, regular catch-ups and hobbies are great ways to begin. It is also essential that you cultivate a habit of making regular catch-ups a must, by developing your relationships with others over vested interests.
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Secure Health & Wellness with Insurance in Singapore
A lot of times, you want to be self reliant. And there is no better time to protect your interests in old age than by starting now. Aside from joining social groups and exercising, you also want to make sure you have the necessary back-ups in place. One way to do that is through health and wellness insurance.
Find out about the most important health & wellness plans in Singapore.