Retirement, death of loved ones, and losing the ability to drive—as we age, a slew of reasons for social isolation fall upon us and its effects are not to be taken lightly. With an increased risk of distressing ailments – from a greater likelihood of contracting colds and other viruses, to faster growth of tumors in cancer patients, to a greater tendency for depression and suicide, and much more – it’s crucial to take steps to alleviate social isolation.
Particularly for the one in six older adults estimated to suffer in solitude, according to the National Council on Aging, the tactics below are recommended.
- Find and participate in social opportunities provided by senior centers, which offer group lunches and other activities.
- Implement an innovative senior visitation program, such as the National Institute of Senior Centers’ “Home Tea,” in which homebound seniors are visited by volunteers with tea to share and an inspirational card.
- Provide a homebound senior with some simple instruction on setting up and utilizing a Facebook account, which can open up a whole new world of interaction.
- Partner with a local high school for intergenerational relationship building. A senior center in New York City, for example, matches up visually impaired seniors with high school students who spend time reading to them, opening mail, and accompanying them to appointments.
- Utilize home care services, such as Heaven at Home provides, for outings to visit friends or to enjoy an event and much needed companionship at home.
If you have a loved one displaying signs of isolation and loneliness, it may be time to consider in-home care assistance. Heaven at Home’s Dallas area caregivers are specially trained in helping seniors with signs of depression and will work with each person’s family to create an individualized care plan to maximize independence. Contact us any time to let us know how we can help.