FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- May is Mental Health Awareness Month.
Loneliness and social isolation can lead to an increased health risk for seniors, according to health experts.
Older adults may find themselves feeling alone due to the death of a partner, lack of transportation or isolation from friends and family. The COVID-19 pandemic only made it worse.
"We've kind of seen where, due to this isolation, it's really kind of taken us towards depression and actually decreased physical health as well," said Stephen Case, Director for Health Education & Member Outreach at Kaiser Permanente.
The health facility is working on getting older patients out of their homes and interacting with people again.
"Maybe grandma was very outgoing and now, she really doesn't want company," shared Case. "She'll say things like, 'Well, don't come by this weekend.' That's every indication that you should go by."
Case said older adults are a vulnerable population when it comes to mental and physical wellness, which is why there's an extra push to get them out of isolation.
According to a recent report, social isolation among older adults is associated with:
- a 50% increased risk of dementia
- a 29% increased risk of heart disease
- a 32% increased risk of stroke.
"If we're going to make a change, it's got to be on these next few months for that population," Case said.
He encourages people to look out for changes when it comes to older adults.
"They're sleeping more, their hours of which they are awake and asleep are changing, maybe their meal sizes and portions have changed," he said. "Then you start to look for physical declined, things like muscle tone and ability to get around."
The CDC has a list of resources for seniors to help improve their quality of life.
For news updates, follow Amanda Aguilar on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.