Feeling alone and isolated is tough for anyone at any age, but it’s especially tough for seniors – and it can have serious implications on their health, both mentally and physically.
In his study titled “A Review of Social Isolation”, Nicholas R. Nicholson observed that “social isolation has been demonstrated to lead to numerous detrimental health effects in older adults, including increased risk for all-cause mortality, dementia, increase risk for re-hospitalization, and an increased number of falls.
Luckily, there are a number of ways you can help your senior avoid these risks and complications associated with isolation. Here’s just a few.
Make transportation accessible.
A lack of either public or private transportation is one of the biggest causes of isolation. Seniors need a method of transportation to run errands, visit friends or family, or sometimes even just for a walk outside. Ensure they have access to transportation, either by investing in a walking assistance device, offering to drive them, or figuring out a carpooling or public transit plan. Giving them mobility will help them maintain social connections, and keep engaged with the world outside their home.
Give them something to take care of.
Experts have noted that feelings of social isolation can be mitigated by the act of nurturing. Adopting a cat or dog from your local shelter could be an option – pet therapy has been shown to lower anxiety and blood pressure, and people who own pets are generally less depressed and lonely. If they’re not capable of looking after an animal however, maybe they can just visit the shelter every week to walk an equally lonely dog. If not, gardening is also an option, as it’s been shown to give similar results.
Get them involved in the community.
Having a greater sense of purpose can be an effective way to combat loneliness and social isolation. Volunteering can provide a senior with this sense of purpose, as well as give them much-needed social time with people of all ages. If they don’t want to volunteer, even attending community events like markets, classes, or festivals can give them the same benefit.
As we age, it becomes harder to maintain social contact. We lose mobility, or we retire and no longer have as many opportunities for social interaction. Whatever the reason though, senior isolation can have some alarming and harmful results. With a little effort and some planning though, you can ensure the important senior in your life stays happy and healthy.
What are some ways you prevent your senior from social isolation and loneliness? Let us know in the comments.