Being social is beneficial for everyone, but it’s especially important for seniors – especially those who live alone or who care for their aging or declining partner. Regular, positive social interactions are shown to improve health and wellbeing for the elderly population, and multiple studies correlate loneliness or feelings of isolation with increased morbidity and mortality rates in seniors.
From reducing indicators for loneliness and depression to slowing down the progression of age-related memory conditions – and just plain making life better – it’s important to keep the seniors in your life socially engaged with the world around them.
Learn More About Things That Block a Senior’s Sociability
Sometimes, a senior’s seeming “un-socialness” has nothing to do with their unwillingness and everything to do with items that need to be addressed first. This might include:
Helping them get control of incontinence issues that make public/social outings embarrassing
Vision/hearing loss that hasn’t been corrected enough to enjoy their surroundings
Unaddressed grief that makes it difficult to connect with others
Not eating well or taking care of general hygiene (a clear sign that outside support is required to keep them safe, healthy, and independent)
Check in and see if any of these are creating social barriers for your loved one.
1. Include him/her in your “routine” life more often
If you think about having to schedule “visits” with senior loved ones, it can seem like one more thing to fit into the calendar – and it rarely happens. Instead, think about including your senior loved one in the routine, day-to-day acts more often.
The simple act of getting out and about, even if s/he opts to sit in the car, or on a shaded bench, and people watch while you do some errands is exponentially more stimulating than sitting alone at home.
Skipping the gym one day a week and taking a walk with him/her around their neighborhood or complex.
Bringing them on a picnic with your little or big one(s)
Taking them along to an evening event you’re attending (the library’s guest speaker, a book club meeting, music event, a poetry reading at the local bookstore, etc.)
Picking them up and heading to a movie theater in their neck of the woods
Picking up a to-go meal and eating at their house on the way home from work/kids’ extra-curricular activities
2. Use a Local Home Care Agency for Companion Services
If you live too far away to visit often, but feel your senior loved one is lonely, companion services are a step in the right direction. Home care agencies do their very best to pair senior clients with companions who share similar interests, tastes in music or food, hobbies, etc. A companion can visit once a week – or multiple times per week – depending on the client’s preference.
Another benefit of using a professional companion is that you have someone who’s (health/safety) checking in on a regular basis, and who can recommend additional services if/when they’re needed – such as light housekeeping, driving services, errand running, grocery services and meal preparation, etc.
3. Encourage Volunteer Opportunities in the Community
Retired adults have more time on their hands than almost any other sector of the population, and yet many sit at home feeling as if life has no real purpose anymore. Most non-profit organizations are in need of volunteers, so volunteerism is the perfect solution for any senior battling loneliness.
There are volunteer opportunities for every personality type, interest, and ability – from petting and walking animals at a local shelter and participating in holiday-themed food drives to reading to elementary students or delivering meals to those who can’t shop/cook on their own.
The team here at Family First Senior Care has a seemingly infinite number of ideas for keeping elderly loved ones social and engaged in our local community. Contact us to schedule an in-home assessment or to learn more about how we can help.