When is your loved one “too isolated”?

caregiving draws us closer to a family member’s routines, we’re sometimes
surprised by what we find. Perhaps you’ve noticed that Dad only leaves the
house once or twice a week.

isolation has been shown to be a risk factor for many conditions. Depression.
Heart disease. Obesity. Dementia. Should you be concerned? Not necessarily.

28% of older adults live alone, not all of them feel lonely. Similarly, a
person may be surrounded by others but still feel isolated. Before becoming
alarmed, consider if your loved one is an extrovert or an introvert.


  • like
    to be out and about in the world
  • get
    energized by doing things with others and often initiate activities
  • like
    to “think out loud” about decisions and want others’ feedback
  • find
    routine, such as solitary housework, unappealing


  • are
    naturally quieter and keep thoughts to themselves
  • enjoy
    an active inner world
  • get
    energized by contemplating ideas and memories
  • like
    people but typically have a few close friends rather than a big social circle

Mom may
have always been an introvert and happily so. A solitary lifestyle is only a
problem if your loved one wishes things were different. Is your loved one’s
pattern in later life different from their earlier pattern? Common causes of
isolation include death of a partner, friends getting sick or moving, loss of a
driver’s license, or increased difficulty getting around.

important than having become isolated is whether your relative seems distressed
by the change. He or she may or may not talk openly about feeling lonely. But
depression from loneliness may show itself in other ways. Confused thinking. Irritability.
Loss of appetite. Or difficulty sleeping.

loneliness is a concern, consider making social activity a higher priority. And
ask the doctor to do a depression screening. The hazards of stressful isolation
are too risky to ignore.  

Are you worried about loneliness in a loved one?
If so, give us a call at 301-593-5285. As the Metro DC experts in aging well, we at Debra Levy Eldercare Associates are quite familiar with the issues that lead to distress and depression. Let us help you come up with a plan.