As adults get older, it is common for social interactions to dwindle. Sometimes the decrease is due to mobility challenges, diminishing eyesight, retirement, or illness. However, socialization is an important component to mental and emotional health and actually improves well-being and helps prevent dementia.
The transitions experienced in life such as retiring from work, losing a spouse, enduring illness or physical limitations can be difficult to accept, leaving individuals feeling lonely, sad, nervous, unhappy, and often isolating themselves from friends and family, which can have detrimental consequences.
Residents living in assisted living communities and other senior care facilities are typically less likely to experience isolation because these organizations have programs specifically designed to support socialization, however, when the elderly continue living at home, the likelihood of isolation increases by 40%.
Here are 4 ways to help your older relatives avoid isolation:
#1 Coordinate Transportation
Sometimes seniors may be more than willing to interact with other people and the hindrance is transportation. If an elderly person refuses to or is unable to drive, providing transportation options may be the perfect solution. Find out what social activities interest them and collaborate with friends, family, and neighbors to coordinate transportation so they can enjoy these outings.
#2 Help Them Find A Sense of Purpose
Everyone thrives when they feel they have a purpose in life and boosts health and happiness at every age. Help the senior in your life find a new hobby or interest by joining a community group, volunteering at a shelter, or sharing a special skillset or talent at a workshop.
#3 Consider Pet Therapy
If your aging relative lives alone, consider getting them a pet. Pet therapy is real. It has been shown to reduce the occurrence of heart attack, reduce high blood pressure, and the companionship will help prevent loneliness and also give them a sense of purpose through the responsibility involved in pet ownership.
#4 Encourage Exercise
Exercise or any form of physical activity can boost the mood and increase health. A walk in the neighborhood or at the park will provide fresh air and sunshine and invite the opportunity to meet other people. There is also an array of exercise classes designed for seniors of all healthy levels that will provide the opportunity for exercise and interaction with others.
During the winter months, it may require more effort and creativity to prevent isolation, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. Simple activities like visiting over a cup of coffee, asking them to share childhood memories or stories of their past, or having a conversation while helping out with household chores are great options for socializing.