Senior Care: How to Prevent Social Isolation in Elderly Individuals
“A Review of Social Isolation” by Nicholas R. Nicholson published in The Journal of Primary Prevention, observes how “social isolation has been demonstrated to lead to numerous detrimental health effects in older adults, including increased risk for all-cause mortality, dementia, increased risk for rehospitalization, and an increased number of falls.”
According to the US Census Bureau, 11 million seniors of the age 65 and above lived alone in the year 2014. This number is only likely to increase with more older adults opting not to have children.
The National Council for aging has estimated that one in six seniors face isolation from their peers and social communities. Losing a spouse/partner, living alone and inability to drive are just a few reasons seniors get isolated from their social circles. Loneliness can be detrimental and can lead to depression and other diseases which can easily be prevented if you take timely action.
Giving seniors a sense of purpose: My grandma is 92 and lost her husband many years ago. She is as fit as a fiddle, and her mind is probably sharper than a lot of young adults these days. One of the prime reasons for her good health was that she turned her hobby into a full-time profitable business. She had always loved gardening and this hobby of hers, after her husband’s death, turned into her place for solace. She slowly turned her garden into a community garden where many people grew vegetables, herbs, fruits and much more.
It is important that older adults find a sense of purpose; this is especially true for seniors who have retired from active duties or for someone who has lost a spouse or a partner. When you know that you have something to do when you wake up each day, it helps you live healthier.
Transportation: Not being able to move when and where you please can be pretty frustrating. For a senior, it’s more so because of their cognitive abilities deteriorating. Not being able to drive can limit seniors from interacting with society. Arranging transportation for your loved one to take them to places where they can meet people and get out of the house will help them avoid or overcome depression.
In fact, many senior care services arrange for regular outings for seniors where they can meet and talk to their peers.
A pet: Pets are known to have a positive impact on their owners. If you gift your senior or loved one a pet, they will have someone to keep them company. Taking care of the pet would keep them busy and give them companionship. Pets can also serve as a form of icebreakers for seniors who have isolated themselves from society. Various in-home care services now offer pet-friendly accommodation due to the positive effects of pets on elders.
Get moving: Regular exercise will give your loved one not only a healthy mind but a healthy body as well. Many seniors isolate themselves because they think that they are not fit enough or their appearance will draw negative attention. But, encouraging them to exercise will not only make them agile but will also remove any negative feelings they harbor about themselves. It is also a great way to meet people of their age and grow their social circle.
Regular vision and hearing tests: A lot of seniors suddenly become socially awkward because they realize that their vision or hearing has become weak. They feel embarrassed when they have to ask others to repeat themselves. Taking your senior for regular tests and getting these minor health issues corrected will help your loved one overcome this embarrassment. Sometimes a hearing aid may be the only barrier between your senior and a better social health. If you’re not around in-home caregivers can take your loved ones for regular vision and hearing tests.
Religious meetings: If your loved one used to be part of a regular religious meetup and is no longer in associated with them, then you must encourage them to rejoin. Research has found that regular visits to a religious sanction have a reduced mortality rate. Your loved one will not only benefit from the social interaction but others can keep an eye and report any health issues that your loved ones have been ignoring.
Encourage use of technology: Social media need not be used only by the current generation. Teaching seniors how to use the internet safely can have great benefits. They can reconnect with friends who live far away and keep in touch with friends and family. This is another way to help them overcome isolation.
If you’re worried that your loved ones feel isolated, leaving them alone might not be practical when you could hire in-home care services through Comfort Keepers. Give us a call at (877) 698-9394 to explore the various solutions to find what’s right for your elderly loved ones.