There has been a plethora of research conducted that confirms there is a wealth of benefits gained by maintaining healthy social lives as we age. Isolation, as well as loneliness, continues to be linked to poor physical and mental health in older adults. For some who choose not to participate in activities available to them, social isolation continues to be a growing problem for those seniors. Part of the responsibility of avoiding isolation and loneliness falls on the person, such as making up excuses on why they can’t join in when an opportunity for participation presents itself. Another part falls on family members. I’ve noticed that my aunt and I are the only ones who make the attempt to ensure my grandmother is at every family event.
Here are some suggestions for keeping your loved one social as they age:
- Provide accessible transportation. Many older adults no longer drive and hate the idea of feeling like a burden if they have to ask for a ride every time they want to go out.
- Part of getting older is your body doesn’t work as well. Many issues present themselves, such as incontinence, which can be very embarrassing and prevents seniors from socializing with others. Find the best possible solution or talk to your physician regarding incontinence products.
- Promote a sense of purpose. Older adults with a sense of purpose or hobbies that interest them are less likely to succumb to the negative effects of social isolation. Encourage seniors to remain active in their hobbies and other interests to help keep them from becoming isolated and lonely.
- Encourage seniors to share a meal with others whenever possible. This will help your loved one stay social and also encourages friendships.
Many seniors do not have a lot of friends in their older years. But just because they may not have a large number of friends does not mean they cannot make new ones. Contact the activities director for your community for a list of upcoming events and activities and choose to participate at least once or twice a week. If you can’t find events or activities that interest you, don’t hesitate to make suggestions of things that you’d like to have added to the list of activities offered.