A few friends recently attended a retirement workshop which sparked discussions about Roth IRAs, survivor benefits and long term care. One focused on the benefits of having long term care to remove a financial burden from family members while securing assistance with daily tasks if needed.
Most of the discussion centered on persons outliving partners and possibly needing medical care in an independent living setting. After our talk, I noticed the topic of loneliness or social isolation which stem from fewer interactions with others who provide emotional support or friendship didn't surface.
I think it's important to consider loneliness or social isolation, which may occur at any age, because a person in an assisted living facility or aging-in-place may have less contact with friends and family members due to mobility issues. Either the person lacks access to transportation or friends and family aren't able to visit frequently due to commitments.
In 2016, an article in Psychology Today referred to a study indicating a large percentage of elderly Americans have had hallucinations of their deceased partners while experiencing loneliness and isolation. The article ends by noting "in the absence of actual human contact our brains may manufacture social experiences in an attempt to preserve our sanity."
To me, a regular still touch or Swedish massage through a wellness program would help reduce the social isolation. By having a regularly scheduled visit, the impacts of social isolation would be minimized.
In 2016, the International Journal of Older People Nursing, published, "Massage, a complementary therapy effectively promoting the health and well-being of older people in residential care settings", which focused on the possible benefits of massage for those living in assisted living-type facilities. After looking at fourteen studies, the article points to evidence of massage enhancing the quality of life (i.e., health and well-being) for those living in these types of residences. It specifically saw massage as having a positive impact on the following factors:
- Emotional Status
- Psychosocial health
- Pharmacological intervention
- Necessity for restraint
The article recommends using massage to promote health and well-being of those in residential care. To me, the positive impact of massage on emotional status and psychological health directly aligns with reducing loneliness and social isolation.
When you consider your long term care arrangements, check and see if it includes massage services. You'll gain many benefits when you schedule regular massages.