It is simply a fact of life that most people will suffer from loneliness at some point in their lives. A study conducted by the United States based health insurance company Cigna revealed that around 40% of the respondents (20,000 people took part in the survey) suffered from loneliness – feeling isolated from those around them and left to deal with their problems on their own.
Loneliness Among Seniors & The Elderly
The pressures of modern society seem to have increased feelings of isolation and loneliness among an extremely diverse group of people, from young to old, however, older people seem to suffer the effects of loneliness more often than other age groups.
A study in Australia (which seems to echo worldwide trends) indicated that upwards of 35% of those people in aged-care environments suffered from loneliness and depression.
The reasons behind these feelings expressed by those in this age group are not that difficult to understand.
They are often separated from their support group of family and friends – either through physical isolation or bereavement, they are often in an environment that is highly regulated – leading to feelings of powerlessness, they may be faced with declining mental and physical faculties (lack of mobility is large contributing factor) and they also may struggle to deal with a world where change is one of the only constants, especially when it comes to technology and communication.
This in turn can lead to chronic feelings of isolation and marginalization.
The effects of loneliness and the accompanying feelings of anxiety and depression can be extremely severe. Psychologist Louise Hawkley (PhD) of the University of Chicago wrote that the effects of loneliness can negatively affect an ‘individual’s physical, mental and cognitive health'(Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, Vol. 370, No. 1669, 2015). The effects of this condition can include depression and poor sleep quality.
Many medical professionals will prescribe anti-depressants and similar types of medication to help sufferers cope with the depression and sleeplessness that are a result of loneliness.
However, many of those who suffer from this condition are in search of a solution that does not rely of man-made chemicals, which often have severe side-effects – and addiction (opioids are commonly prescribed and addiction to this class of drugs has now reached epidemic proportions in the United States).
Can Weighted Blankets Help With Loneliness?
Fortunately, the use of weighted blankets can go some way toward combating some of the symptoms of depression that affects those who are lonely. These blankets can help calm and relax users, help with insomnia, and provide a feeling of safety.
According to the well-known health and wellbeing website, Healthline, weighted blankets mimic the effects of a therapy called ‘deep pressure touch (DPT)’. This type of therapy stimulates the brain’s production of serotonin and dopamine (both natural ‘feel good’ neurotransmitters).
The use of weighted blankets also interrupts the body’s production of cortisol, a stress hormone that can have extremely negative effects on sleep patterns and increase levels of anxiety and depression.
The Best Weighted Blankets for Loneliness and Depression
Those who want to explore the benefits of weighted blankets for seniors in combating feelings of isolation and loneliness are faced with what can be a bewildering number of choices.
However, here are some best-selling weighted blankets that have received overwhelmingly positive feedback and reviews from both experts and consumers.
The great thing about this weighted blanket is that it is available in a number of different weights – which makes it suitable for a wide variety of individuals (remember a weighted blanket should weigh about 10% of your body weight). It is available in 15, 20 and 25-pound variants.
The duvet cover is made of incredibly soft micro-fleece while the interior blanket uses cotton fabric (which is extremely breathable so avoids moisture build-up during the night) and features premium glass beads. The beads are kept in place due to the gridded stitching.
The blankets are available in grey and Navy Blue and the cover is machine washable (the internal blanket will require gentle hand washing).
These blankets have received rave reviews from consumers – and with 13 different color combinations and weights, the range is sure to have a product that will meet anyone’s unique requirements.
The all-natural bamboo fiber is incredibly breathable and almost silky to the touch. This is the perfect blanket for year-round use – and the fabric and breathability make it great for those who ‘run hot’ during the night.
Consumer feedback indicates that many credit this blanket for helping with insomnia, depression and anxiety.
This is another weighted blanket that scores highly with consumers. It is continually rated as a best-seller on Amazon – and given the fact that the range has something to suit everyone, with weights that range from 5 to 30 pounds, and is manufactured using highly breathable and luxurious pure cotton this may come as no surprise.
The micro glass beads provide that incredible feeling of being hugged while sleeping. A separate duvet cover is available to make cleaning less of a chore.
Those who are in frail care or resident in a facility that caters to the aged often find themselves seated for long periods of time. Weighted blankets that are suitable for seated use (or for those who are wheelchair-bound), as well as being suitable for bedtime use can be incredibly useful.
This quilt-type weighted blanket boasts this sort of versatility and is available in three different weights – 15, 20 or 25 pounds. The small box stitching pattern ensures even weight distribution due to the fact that it prevents the beads from clumping – and the high-quality Egyptian cotton fabric is both incredibly breathable and wonderfully comfortable.
This is the perfect weighted blanket for the consumer who wants style, versatility and a little bit of fun all in one package. It’s reversible, with imitation fur on one side and ‘Sherpa’ material on the other. It offers great value for money at under $100 for even the heaviest of the variants.
It doesn’t have beads, the material alone (a 100% polyester microfiber fabric) is enough to provide that weighted blanket experience. The blanket is available in a number of colors (including ‘Baby Pink’, Cream and Grey. Users can choose between the 15 or 20-pound variants – and the blankets are also available in a number of different sizes.
The sheer size and plushness of these weighted blankets makes professional cleaning a must.
At 15 pounds this weighted blanket is suitable for most users and is available in Queen size only.
The Minky feel material with its striking ‘Sensacool’ dot finish gives this blanket a tremendously attractive appearance (and aids in breathability and promoting a cool night’s sleep). The fact that it is reversible with seven different color options means that there is an option that will compliment any bedding.
The blanket features glass micro beads and the product is supplied in two parts – the weighted inner and the separate cover.
Unfortunately, loneliness and the accompanying feelings of depression and anxiety are all too common in those who are in what should be their Golden years.
There can be no substitute for human contact, communication and care. However, a weighted blanket can provide a proven solution to coping with loneliness by promoting a calm and restful night’s sleep.
For many in search of a natural and effective remedy for loved ones who are suffering the sometimes serious mental and physical challenges that accompany a feeling of loneliness, a weighted blanket is an intervention that can make the world of difference to someone’s quality of life.