Ways to Reduce Senior Isolation
Fostering strong social connections is essential to the mental and physical well-being of older adults. Without these connections, there is a risk of senior isolation which can lead to a host of issues like depression, malnutrition, and an increased risk of dementia. Many circumstances can lead to senior isolation: loss of a loved one, health challenges, lack of transportation, and living in a rural location are just a few factors. Encouraging your loved one to socialize can help provide him with a better quality of life. Here are ways to inspire your loved one to connect with others:
Encourage your loved one to connect with others by volunteering. Get involved in a cause that is near and dear to his heart. Does he enjoy reading? Consider volunteering at a local elementary school or library to help children learn how to read. Does he enjoy animals? Helping out at a local shelter may be the solution for him. Volunteering is a great way to help him feel like he’s contributing as well as enriching his life.
Address Health Issues
As you age, your body no longer functions how you would like it to. Issues like incontinence, can be very embarrassing, which can make him shy away from social gatherings. As difficult as this conversation is to have, help him explore and find a suitable solution. Consult with his doctor to see what options are available, depending on the health issue. The end result will provide your loved one with more confidence when out in public.
Promote a Positive Body Image
Never underestimate the power of a compliment. At times, older individuals feel like they have too many wrinkles or struggle with being overweight which can cause them to be self-conscience and lead them to close themselves off from family and friends. Compliments and positive words can go along way in boosting self-esteem. If your loved one is overweight, be positive and sensitive when addressing his diet and health matters.
Get up and get moving. Group exercises are a great way to socialize while getting fit at the same time. If group exercises aren’t his thing, incorporate light exercises, like walking, into your loved one’s day. Keep it interesting and change the setting by finding safe paths around your house, waterways, the mall, or through the park. Even low impact exercises, like stretching, can improve a person’s well being.
Share a Meal
Don’t be afraid to fill his calendar with lunch meetings and coffee dates. Encouraging your loved one to dine with friends can help him develop a sense of belonging. Sharing a meal with others is also a great way to help promote better nutrition.
Make Transportation Available
Driving can become unsafe for many seniors so providing them with an alternative way of transportation is imperative. It helps them retain their independence and stay active. There are many rideshare options available as well as public transportation. As an added bonus, many public transportation options offer discounts for seniors.
Show a Little Love
Try practicing more affectionate behaviors. For those who shy away from contact, a quick hug or handshake when greeting or leaving a loved one can be an easy way to show them you care. Another way way to show you care--be present. Ask him how his day is going and really listen to his answer. The simple act of listening can show him that what he has to say matters and that he is important to you.
It Takes a Village
Build a support group of family and friends who can help you with daily interaction and companionship. The Catholic Eldercare by Day Senior Program offers many of the above activities and so much more. We provide a safe environment which promotes healthy living and personal independence. We would love to answer any questions you have. Contact our office at 612-362-2405 for further details on our program.