Loneliness and social isolation have been linked to an increased risk of a variety of physical and mental conditions, including heart disease, obesity, a weakened immune system, anxiety, depression, Alzheimer's disease, and high blood pressure. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
- Social isolation and loneliness raise the risk of death from any cause.
- Social isolation has been linked to a 50% increase in the likelihood of developing dementia.
- Social isolation was linked to a 29% increased risk of heart disease and a 32% increased risk of stroke.
- Loneliness raises the likelihood of depression, anxiety, and suicide.
How Can An Emotional Support Animal Effectively Treat Loneliness and Social Isolation in Older Adults?
- Loneliness and social isolation in older adults are significant issues affecting the mental health and wellbeing of older adults. Emotional support animals (ESAs) have been shown to be effective in providing companionship and reducing loneliness, particularly in older adults.
- ESAs are pets that provide comfort and support to individuals with mental health conditions, including anxiety, depression, and loneliness. These animals are not considered service animals and do not require specific training, but they can still provide significant emotional benefits to their owners.
- The bond between an ESA and their owner can be incredibly strong, providing a sense of purpose and belonging that can help combat feelings of isolation and loneliness. The presence of an ESA can also help older adults feel more comfortable and confident when engaging in social activities, such as attending social events or interacting with others in public settings.