Do you get lonely? We all do from time to time. However, as we get older, more people feel lonely. Today there is an even greater level of isolation due to the aftereffects of the COVID-19 virus crisis.
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine says over one-third of adults aged 45 and older feel lonely. Nearly one-fourth of adults aged 65 and older are deemed socially isolated.
Social Isolation and Depression Increasing Among Seniors
The CDC says older adults are at increased risk for loneliness and social isolation since many live alone, have lost family or friends, suffer chronic illness, and hearing loss.
Loneliness is a health obstacle for many seniors in our communities. Not only can isolation lead to depression, but loneliness can also have significant impacts on physical health. Studies have shown that loneliness is more deadly than smoking. Prolonged isolation can increase the chances of stroke and progress symptoms of dementia.
But caregivers and family members can help facilitate activities to minimize the isolation seniors experience. Learn how you can help yourself and seniors prevent loneliness with these tips.
More Americans are now vaccinated for COVID-19 so people can safely start returning to a somewhat normal life.
Organizing times for friends, family members, and neighbors to stop by is always beneficial. Sometimes, they might need a gentle nudge. Plan times for one-on-one visits or arrange for a group visit. Even hiring in-home care for a few hours a week can help stave off isolation.
Not everyone needs the same amount of socialization. Whether your loved one is an introvert or extrovert, tailor visiting times to what they need, not what you think they need. Listen to them if they mention it's too much or too little. Be careful not to impose on them.
Also, energy levels change as we get older. If they were social butterflies in their youth, they might not be so much now.
Many activities are available for seniors in any community. Some possible hobbies you might help them pick up include:
- Volunteer Opportunities – They might decide to become a museum docent, mentor children, and work in a communal garden.
- Courses – Senior centers offer courses with various interests, such as art, singing, water aerobics, or bingo.
- Online Communities – Seniors can engage with one another in chat rooms and discuss topics concerning them.
- Pets – Finding a pet for your loved one can increase engagement in their life. Owning and caring for pets have been known to reduce stress and blood pressure.
Senior Living Community
One of the most helpful solutions for how you can help seniors prevent loneliness is a senior living community. For seniors who need more care, living in an assisted living community can offer social benefits they otherwise wouldn't receive in their own homes.
Everyone has busy lives these days; however, if you have an older parent or loved one who lives independently, be sure to speak with them regularly. Even a quick phone call can be beneficial in reducing loneliness and depression. If your loved one has a smartphone, a quick video chat can even make it more memorable.
With small steps to encourage engagement, your loved ones can still lead engaging social lives well into their twilight years. Keep in mind, as we all get older, we experience changes in our health. Bodies change. Some people even experience cognitive decline. When this starts to happen, some people begin to isolate themselves. This isolation leads to loneliness, depression, and poor health.
About the Author
Mallory Knee is a freelance writer for multiple online publications where she can showcase her affinity for all things beauty and fashion. She particularly enjoys writing for communities of passionate women who come together for a shared interest and empower one another in the process. In her free time, you can find Mallory trying a fun new dinner recipe, practicing calligraphy, or hanging out with her family.
Contributor since September 25th, 2020
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