As adults age, it’s common for their social connections to decrease due to lack of mobility, retirement, and other reasons. No matter the cause of senior isolation, it is crucial for caregivers to take extra measures to promote socialization. The consequences of feeling lonely for long periods of time can be quite harmful.
Whether you are a full time, part time, or long distance caregiver, you may want to consider the following tips for preventing senior isolation.
Promote a Sense of Purpose
The harmful effects of isolation are less likely to impact older adults who actively pursue their interests or contribute to a community. Having a sense of purpose is essential to mental health at any age. Besides this, many hobbies are social in nature. Figure out what your loved one likes to do and find a group that relates. For example, if your loved one enjoys reading, introduce them to a local book club. Always be supportive of their chosen endeavors.
Arrange for Transportation
Sometimes, the biggest obstacle of getting from point A to point B is the physical travel! Especially for an elderly person with no driver’s license, the most convenient transportation option isn’t always possible. Get creative with safe transportation options for all of your senior loved one’s social activities. Organize a carpool with others at these events, create a network of family and friends who are available to chauffeur at different times of the day, or help them learn the ins and outs of public transportation.
Get them a Pet
Pet therapy is increasingly popular with older adults. Having an animal companion not only deters loneliness, it also presents health benefits like lowered cholesterol levels, which in turn prevents heart attacks and strokes.
Going back to having a sense of purpose, volunteering is a great way to participate in community initiatives and contribute to a cause greater than oneself. Depending on their health, suggest that your loved one volunteer at local libraries, animal shelters, homeless shelters, hospitals, or places of worship. If they have a particular skill set, like accounting, connect them with groups or individuals who need help in these areas.
Encourage Exercise Groups or Classes
Physical activity is often a social activity. When a social aspect is combined with all the benefits of exercise, it’s a no-brainer to have your senior participate. Low-impact exercises like tai chi and yoga can easily be accessed by finding a local class and sticking to its schedule. Walking groups would also be a terrific light exercise; many shopping centres have groups dedicated to mall walking, or you can find a club that walks outdoors.
Encourage Visits to Places of Worship
While this may only apply to religious older adults, it’s a healthy practice that many people partake in. Because most places of worship have a repeating weekly schedule, they’re a wonderfully consistent and positive way to experience social interaction. Churches, mosques, and synagogues often have community programming as well; get to know which ones your loved one would enjoy.
Did we miss something? Let us know how you prevent senior isolation in the comments section below.