Remember the isolation of the worldwide pandemic? Loneliness can be its own pandemic and can result from a lack of meaningful social, spiritual, and emotional connections. Isolation is described as something separate and not connected to other things, or the condition of being unhappy while completely alone. 

Did you realize that adults with life-altering illnesses often experience loneliness? The elderly, some living alone, can face a myriad of health difficulties and end-of-life challenges that are further complicated by seclusion, loneliness, and separation from friends, family, and the community.

What are the consequences of loneliness for the elderly?

The feelings of being in isolation, of having a lack of belonging or meaningful companionship can lead to poor health, including depression, accelerated cognitive decline, and possibly an earlier death rate for the older population. This government study states that “left unaddressed, loneliness may cause significant emotional, physical and existential distress.” 

Many elderly face the unique challenges of lack of mobility that keep them limited to their own environment. They may need help preparing meals or even buying groceries and supplies. Suffering from cognitive impairment and hearing or vision difficulties can also isolate them from the world at large.

How do isolation and loneliness affect the end of life?

The end of life is inevitable, but it can bring a vulnerability to loneliness, due to caregiving needs, and difficulty obtaining the support needed financially, spiritually, emotionally, or socially. Someone living alone is even more susceptible to the loneliness caused by isolation. Many factors, including the loss of a spouse, can cause a patient with a life-limiting medical diagnosis to withdraw, creating an even greater possibility of separateness. Due to declining health conditions, they may be experiencing a fear of dying or the loss of their place in society.

The positive impact of Heart to Heart Hospice services on isolation for patients and their caregivers.

Hospicenews shares that “research has indicated significant links between the impacts of social isolation and increased risk of early mortality among older and seriously ill patients. Not only is a patient’s mental health impacted with greater risk of depression, anxiety, and loneliness, but isolation also poses increased physical risks for those in the home without strong family and caregiver support.”

The broad spectrum of services that Heart to Heart Hospice provides can significantly lift feelings of loneliness and isolation for our patients and their caregivers, allowing them to stay in their home environment. We offer emotional, social, spiritual, and medical care through trained nurses, social workers, spiritual care coordinators, and volunteers – roles essential to reduce the sense of being alone in the world, due to limited support. We provide meaningful bereavement support for our patients and their families processing the end-of-life, and dealing with guilt or grief from the loss of a loved one. We walk in the door to our patients’ homes with consistent human touch and respectful, hands-on care that is critical for the emotional support they need in the final stages of life. A telehealth option is available for patients to stay in touch and always have the help they need. A hospice patient left alone, without regular support, does not happen under our care.

According to, “Statistics reveal that between 40 and 70% of family caregivers experience clinical symptoms of depression, which can often be caused by feelings of isolation and loneliness associated with the caregiving experience. It can be a dark and difficult period for those caregivers who experience these feelings of isolation.”

The support that Heart to Heart Hospice brings to their patient has a carryover effect on the caregiver. Because a caregiver can be plagued with the sense that they are living in an isolated world all on their own, our compassionate care, emotional, spiritual, and social support extends to those who are shouldering the care responsibilities. Seeing a hospice nurse, social worker, or volunteer walk in the door is stress relieving, knowing they bring needed medical care, a compassionate touch, a listening ear, and emotional reinforcement. With Heart to Heart Hospice services in place, patients and their families feel supported and encouraged that they will never walk alone in this end-of-life journey.