The older we get, the more self-reliant and independent we become. However, the amount of self-reliance we experience can commonly be described with a bell-curve in terms of each person’s lifespan. One of the most pressing issues affecting seniors is social isolation. For individuals who can’t get out of the house as easily as they used to, there’s the risk that their social life will suffer. Even for seniors in nursing homes or assisted living communities, the possibility of isolation is very real. Helping seniors avoid isolation is all about covering the basics of mobility and social access.
Helping Seniors Avoid Isolation | 5 Ways
1. Gaining Access to Transportation
One of the main things helping seniors avoid isolation is the availability of transportation. No matter if a senior’s living space is urban or rural, transportation is incredibly important! Beyond just going to the grocery store or the doctor, the ability to get out into one’s community in a reliable way can solve many issues. Driving a personal car is one thing, but simply having access to senior transit systems in a senior living community or neighborhood make all the difference. Things like public buses can be great and even ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft represent good options.
2. Promote Purpose
Helping seniors avoid isolation is also about helping individuals feel a sense of purpose. It’s far too common that older adults feel they aren’t able to make the same type of contributions they used to. While aging does change what we’re able to do, it provides other great opportunities at the same time! Although many of the activities seniors enjoy in assisted living and other communities are often social, some need to be productive in order to feel connected. Volunteering in different ways around senior centers or other community services are great methods of avoiding isolation. Otherwise, encouraging seniors to stay active in their hobbies and interests keeps people feeling like they have a purpose.
3. Encourage Religious Seniors to Continue Their Faith
After a senior has been an active churchgoer for most of their adult life, the transition to a nursing home or assisted living needs to accommodate this. Previous studies of the benefits of churchgoing observed that religion can promote a sense of purpose, ultimately helping seniors avoid isolation. All of the various community activities and just the act of interacting with like-minded individuals makes it possible for older adults to feel connected. No matter what religion someone subscribes to, there are plenty of reasons why spiritual centers can provide an outlet for seniors.
4. Find A Furry Friend
It’s no secret that pets provide some of the most joyful moments in our lives. There are plenty of studies on the emotional benefits of owning a dog — although we didn’t need science to tell us that! The benefits of nurturing a pet generally include less depressive feelings, a sense of security, and social engagement when taking walks out in public. Caring for a pet also provides that sense of purpose that so many people need to feel less isolated. Although there are certain difficulties seniors may encounter in keeping up with their furry friends, the benefits are well worth it!
5. Dining With Others
Whether it’s with a long-time friend, a relative or loved one, eating together is one of the best ways people are helping seniors avoid isolation. Everyone needs to eat and the social engagement that comes along with meals is invaluable! Taking your senior out to eat every so often really makes a huge difference. At the same time, cooking for someone in the comfort of their own space is a wonderful way to spend time together. Many seniors may even be the ones teaching you their prized recipes so the benefits are mutual!
What are some ways you’ve been helping seniors avoid isolation? Let us know in the comments below!