The older we get, the more self-reliant and independent we become, right? While this is mostly true, this independence is not very sustainable. Our self-reliance is often described as a bell-curve instead of a linear increase. As we age, we generally need more help from other people. This not only applies to our physical difficulties, but it’s also relevant to our mental health. One of the most pressing issues affecting seniors is social isolation. Individuals who can’t get out of the house as easily as they used to can have trouble maintaining their social lives. Even for seniors in nursing homes or assisted living communities, the possibility of isolation is very real and its effects can be detrimental. Luckily, there are many ways that you can help seniors avoid isolation. Continue reading for our top five suggestions!
5 Ways to Help Seniors Avoid Isolation
1. Gaining Access to Transportation
One of the easiest ways to help seniors avoid isolation is to provide access to transportation. Whether a senior’s living space is urban or rural, it’s still very important for them to be able to get around! In addition to going to the grocery store or to an important doctor’s appointment, exploring one’s community is also crucial. For seniors who can no longer drive, a bus pass or train card can make all the difference in the world. Seniors who are more tech-savvy can also use Uber and Lyft!
2. Promote Purpose
Reintroducing a sense of purpose to your loved one’s life is another step in the right direction. A lot of older adults feel as though they can no longer make valuable contributions to society. These negative notions sometimes fuel their sense of isolation. While aging changes what we’re able to do, it doesn’t have to be the end of one’s abilities! While many activities that seniors enjoy in assisted living communities are often social, some people feel more connected to others when they are being productive. Encouraging seniors to volunteer is a great way to promote social interaction while giving them a sense of purpose. If volunteering is not an option due to physical ailments, don’t worry! There are other alternatives! Urging your loved ones to pursue old hobbies and interests is another awesome way to help them stay motivated without overexerting themselves.
3. Encourage Religious Seniors to Continue Their Faith
It’s important for caregivers to accommodate the needs of religious seniors. Faith-based practices can promote a sense of purpose and provide a familiar environment for seniors who are still adjusting to assisted living. Staying in touch with an old congregation or finding a new one can help seniors feel more connected to others and to a higher power. No matter what religion someone subscribes to, there are plenty of reasons why spiritual centers can provide a healthy 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. Be sure to check out our list of the best dogs for seniors!
5. Dine With Them
Whether it’s with a long-time friend, a relative, or a loved one, eating together is one of the best ways to help seniors avoid isolation. Everyone needs to eat and food is a great way to get people talking! Even though it seems like a small gesture, going out to eat with your loved ones can really make a huge difference in their lives. Another option is cooking a meal with them. This is a wonderful way to engage with seniors who are less mobile. They can enjoy a home-cooked meal in the comfort of their own space. Many seniors will also enjoy passing along family recipes. Through this activity, you can build stronger relationships with your loved ones while giving them a sense of purpose. Oh, and who can forget the benefit of enjoying the food once it’s done?!
What are some ways that you help avoid isolation? Let us know in the comments below! We would love to hear from you.