As a senior ages, their life can become more isolated. Their family is no longer at home with them, and they may begin to isolate themselves from the outside world because it has become more difficult for them to get out.
Social isolation among seniors can also impact their health. A study by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences showed that seniors have a 26 percent higher death risk than the elderly that is more social. Elderly that are socially isolated may not have anyone in their life to care for them, and they can develop illness signs without realizing they need help.
Signs of social isolation among seniors can take on many forms from refusing to go out or making excuses as to why they cannot attend events with friends and family. To help your parent stay social, you need to encourage their social interaction and assist them with the reasons that they are foregoing meeting with friends and family.
It may be difficult for them to hear in a crowded area such as a restaurant or they may not have access to the transportation that they once did, making it more challenging to get around. They may not want to rely on anyone to help them get out, and they seek shelter in their home as it is easier for them to stay at home.
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How To Reduce Social Isolation Among Seniors?
Helping a senior overcome social isolation is a key step to improving their health. A senior that is socially active with friends and family can have more longevity in their life and be happier as a result. Try these steps to help your parent avoid social isolation.
- Provide transportation: Setting your parent up with an adequate means of getting around is imperative to their social interaction with seniors. They may not have access to driving anymore and should be able to navigate a public transportation system with ease. If one is not available, make yourself accessible to them, so they don’t have to miss out on outings with friends and family.
- Give them a purpose: Helping a senior find a purpose for their life can help to ward off feelings of isolation. They need to remain active and have something to look forward to on a daily basis. Get them involved in a hobby or group so they can feel like they belong and have something to achieve each day.
- Help with hearing and vision sensitivities: If your parent struggles in a social setting because of hearing or vision difficulties, get them the help they need to improve these senses. A new hearing aid or glasses prescription may be in order, and a visit to the doctor to have a screening can help. This will allow them to feel more at ease in a social setting and allow them to communicate more clearly with friends and family.
- Provide assistance getting around: Your parent may be experiencing difficulties getting around that is contributing to their elderly social isolation. They may have trouble walking and need a cane or scooter for assistance. Get your parent the accessibility equipment they need so they can stay active and get out to visit with friends and family.
- Talk to their neighbors: A simple thing that you can do for your parent to help prevent social isolation in seniors is to let a neighbor know that they are alone. A simple visit from a neighborly friend can brighten any senior’s day. This can provide the check-in that your parent needs and will give them the opportunity to talk to someone new.
- Share a meal together: Eating alone can be one of the most isolating events for a senior that once had a family to share meals with. Encourage your parent to eat dinner with you or their friends. Schedule regular mealtime outings for your parent and make sure they have someone to share their dinner with.
- Address incontinence issues: Incontinence can be an embarrassing issue for seniors. They may avoid going out and being with others as a result. This can allow social isolation among seniors to set in. Address these issues head on and provide your parent with the medication or supplies they need to feel confident.
Giving your parent the freedom to meet with friends and family on a regular basis can help prevent elderly social isolation. The act of socializing with others can go a long way to improving their mental health and ensure that loneliness doesn’t set in. Address the issues that your parent finds difficult in being in a social situation and watch them thrive as they get the opportunity to mingle with others.