Seniors Choosing Isolation?

Seniors Choosing Isolation?

Seniors in IsolationWhat a sad circumstance for seniors to be alone during the holidays. Is the isolation voluntary or involuntary? My poor mom has ecoli and was put into isolation at her skilled nursing community. Everyone has to wear a gown, gloves and a mask to enter her room. She will NOT get to dine with her fellow residents for four more days. Fortunately, she is more than halfway through her antibiotic and feels good now. She was in great spirits today and even invited me to stay for lunch!

Some seniors become isolated as they age in their home like my in-laws. They refuse to move to a retirement community. Both have dementia and neither of them drives. They are 100 percent dependent on one local son to bring them groceries, take them to the doctor and socialize with them. Is this enough human interaction? I don’t think so.

Other seniors determined to stay at home, use home care and become dependent on a single caregiver. Is this a healthy life? The rest of us interact with 10 or 20 people a day. What happens when someone only interacts with one person, day after day, month after month? Many years ago, my mom was in this situation and it was when the memory issues began.

Every senior faces a choice to plan ahead by moving to a senior living community or wait until a health care crisis and live with the consequences. I hope and pray that more seniors chose multiple human interactions by moving to a senior living community. My mom started to thrive again after she moved to assisted living. My in-laws could thrive again too, but they refuse.

My mom is in a good place and will see quite a few different staff during her isolation. My in-laws are 1000 miles away and will be in a lonely house for the holidays. The house can’t talk to them, smile at them or buy them groceries.

Diane Masson’s new guide book for seniors, “Your Senior Housing Options,” will be will be coming soon to If you sign up for my weekly newsletter on the right side of this blog, you will be notified when my new book becomes available. Check out my new website: or please follow me on Facebook.

“Your Senior Housing Options,” is dedicated to my mother, whose stories are peppered throughout. Being her advocate for over ten years has taught me to be a better person. My mom has dementia, but I am truly blessed that she still calls me by name. Her smile and joy inspires me to see the positive side of life. It makes me want to reach out and help seniors and their families make better choices today so they can have more secure long-term care plans tomorrow.


  1. Diane, this will become a huge issue with the baby boomers moving into their twilight years. In a sense, I suspect this is a learned condition because people feel the need to “stand on their own.” Somehow, being isolated seems to include an environment of personal “responsibility” whereby a person takes care of themselves come hell or high water. Add this to the fact that churches will begin to crumble in the near future and the safety net gets very small, indeed. Great post!

    • Yes, seniors want to be independent and be in control. What few know is that as they refuse to move, their housing choices become limited. My in-laws no longer qualify for an independent setting and would need to live in assisted living or memory care.

  2. Diane et al,

    Keep in mind that isolation is one of the signs of depression. As a person becomes more depressed, their life becomes more one-dimensional, relying on fewer and fewer people. Depression is not to be taken lightly at any age, and can even be potentially fatal.

    I don’t find depression in seniors to be that surprising. Imagine your friends around start dieing, becoming less mobile, dietary restrictions, drugs upon drugs, your world becoming smaller, the mind not working as well as it once did, end of life issues, and the list comes on and on. No wonder there are more and more cases of geriatric depression.

    Depression is hard to DEFINITIVELY diagnose. I see the drugs for depression as a broken promise. They get sold as the best thing since sliced bread; they are not. Some times they work, sometimes they don’t, and side affect sometimes carry side affects equal to worse than the original depression.

    If seniors are open minded, here are some things to try even before a drug treatment.

    –Any form of exercise
    –Mindfulness exercise (a form of meditation)
    –Breathing exercise (another form of meditation)
    –Start up a depression support group at the senior community. Even a structured peer based program can prove effective.
    –Rebuild/Expand their circle of friends, even a phone call a day can make a difference.
    –Try to have them re-pickup their hobby or craft.
    –Licensed Therapist


    someone who finds himself trying to break through his isolation after a serious depressive cycle

    • Now, you have brought up an interesting point! If a senior is isolating in their home because of depression, how can they be helped if they don’t drive and refuse to go to the doctor? Wouldn’t it be better if they lived in a senior community with a more supportive environment? Tough questions that many families are facing over the holidays. Thanks for your tips on depression.

  3. From Linked In
    Karen Koch
    Occupational therapist/design lead – making homes safe, accessible, maintenance-free and beautiful.

    Good article but so sad. Isolation is part of depress I wonder how much of the isolation has to do with depression. My grandfather began to blossom when he went to a nursing home probably due to increased social interaction.

    Diane Masson
    Regional Marketing Director at Freedom Management Co.

    Thanks for sharing your experience with your grandfather.

  4. Interesting points you are making. My husband and I have the means to remodel our home, by the river with a view we love. The upper level is a ranch style, no steps. The bathroom and halls/doorways were all adjusted to ADA requirements. The lower level walk out is a self contained apartment. Separate entrance etc.

    Why did we do this? So we can keep our assets, spend them on ourselves with our own care-our own way. We anticipate hiring a full-time caregiver or couple to care for us, our children will help as needed. It’s much cheaper to pay out of pocket in this way, than to be placed in a SNF.

    Both of us have Alzheimer’s dementia in our families (our parents), so the reality is pretty clear to us that one of us may be stricken, if not both.

    Socialization can come through church, which we can attend with our children, Skype etc. I don’t need to sit at a table with strangers and watch them fall asleep in their plate for the sake of being with others to chat about the latest happenings at the facilities aviary.

    How old am I? 60. Your right, baby boomers are looking ahead.

    • I love that you are planning ahead, plus right now you have each other. I am writing an entire book that walks you through the pros and cons of each senior housing situation including staying at home. You have every right to stay to home, but know the costs are more than assisted living and skilled nursing when you need around-the-clock care. Check out some of my previous posts on home care costs. People who work in the field shared what their costs are around the nation. Average is about $15,000 a month or more for reputable care from one non-medically trained person.

  5. I work for an Assisted Living/Memory Support and have been encouraged by the turn out at programs focused depression and anxiety (Home Health talks). Thank you for sharing your insight about isolation ~ our residents have relationships with residents, as well as staff, and I didn’t consider what an advantage they have over those who are still living at home (and often isolated).

  6. What I find so frustrating about these situations, is that families feel they are doing their parents a favor by yielding to their wishes….even when the wishes are, either not healthy, or, in some cases, difficult for the children to perform. I typically equate the situation to that of a pre-teen child who asks if they can do something with friends. We would all like to be the “Nice” parent and just say yes….but we have to use our better judgement, and often say NO to the request. Why? because we love them and we need to protect them…maybe they are not quite ready to be on their own making their own decisions at an Amusement park! Just as our parents with dementia/or health concerns, perhaps should not have long spans of time with out integration, socialization, and authority. Bringing food in does not guarantee that they will choose healthy food—or eat at all.
    Just as we love our children, and have to make hard decisions on their behalf—there comes a time, when we, as children, have to step up to the plate and make those tough decisions.
    Have the conversation NOW with your parents….BEFORE there is a NEED!
    Talk about the when…not IF. It’s hard to do….but if we don’t start early, the conversation becomes way more difficult!
    Find the resources in your area….The Council On Aging, Pro Seniors, Alzheimer’s Associations, Senior Centers, Veteran’s Administration, as well as the Doctor’s in their lives.

    • Right on Lisa! I love it!

      We had those tough conversations with my in-laws but they refused to move. You hear the story about the cobblers children not having in shoes? Well that is the situation with my in-laws. Now, they have waited too long and my father-in-law is completely worn out from caring for my mother-in-law with dementia. Now he has dementia. They don’t drive anymore (thank goodness) and they are trapped in a house that cannot care for them. Why?

  7. From Linked IN
    Lorie Eber
    Personal Wellness Coach at Lorie Eber Wellness Coaching

    I agree. Many well meaning family members are so determined to keep their parents in their homes that they overlook the crucial need for socialization, which is very much associated with quality of life and lack of depression.

    Diane Masson
    Regional Marketing Director at Freedom Management Co.

    Good point Lorie, several other people have mentioned the connection between isolation and depression.

  8. As a senior advocate seeing up front all of the “isolation” among seniors, that I started the “Senior Chat Room” This is a weekly get together for seniors 60 yrs to 100 yrs. We have fun chatting among ourselves with brain challenge games and table topics. We are also well known for our parties, at least one a month. Senior Chat Room’s fifth anniversary was the talk of the town.
    All of the seniors live independently and are thriving with the senior centers around this town. We even had a romantic meeting between two people
    It is not the isolation that is the main problem, but the exclusion of socializing with their peers. Projects like the Senior Chat Room are so very vital to our seniors

    • This is awesome! A senior chat room – I love it! Where are you located? I would love to blog about this.

  9. I work for Dolan Memory Care Homes. We care for persons with Alzheimer’s and related dementias in a group home environment. I have found that people’s perception of Assisted Living is not up to date with what is available. Many of our parents only know the skilled nursing homes of many years ago and do not realize that the Senior communities are vibrant, engaging places where they can make choices. It is important for seniors to realize there are options.

    • I agree 100 percent. Many people think that it a place filled with hospital beds.