Were you aware that, even before COVID-19, social isolation among seniors could be common? Isolation can significantly impact health, well-being, and quality of life for seniors, and it may be one of the most prevalent issues that seniors face. Let us take a look at seven ways to help seniors avoid social isolation.
1. Incorporate Technology. Thanks to video conferencing technology, it may be easier than ever to connect with people. Make sure that your loved one has a laptop or tablet, and that he or she knows how to use it. Taking the time to teach your loved one how to use video calling, Zoom, Facetime, social media, and chats can make it easier to connect more often. This step can be foundational for many other social activities right now.
2. Join the Club. Many clubs are social by nature, and many senior centers have successfully transferred club activities to online formats. Whether it is a knitting circle, book club, community college class, game night, or hiking group, seniors who remain active in their hobbies and clubs can have something to look forward to each week. Seniors can also volunteer with many organizations. This type of involvement can help them feel fulfilled while also providing social interaction. Similarly, if your senior has been a regular church-goer, encourage your loved one to continue to attend and to build relationships with the spiritual community. Maintaining connections to meaningful activities and community can be beneficial.
3. Eat a Meal Together. Food can be a social experience, and often a celebratory experience. When it may be safe to be together, enjoy a meal together. Until then, try a video call during dinner, or have a picnic outside the window of your loved ones. Eating together can be an important way to stay connected.
4. Adopt a Pet or a Plant. Taking care of a pet or a plant can give anyone a new sense of purpose. Caring for and helping something grow may not only reduce feelings of isolation and depression but it can also help seniors feel more secure and help them engage more socially.
5. Hearing and Vision Care. Seniors with hearing or vision impairments can experience additional isolation because they may not hear the conversation or see what is going on, even when they are surrounded by friends. Glasses, hearing aids, and other devices can help seniors stay engaged, which can help them maintain meaningful relationships.
6. Address Issues of Incontinence. When incontinence may be appropriately addressed by medical professionals, your elder loved one can feel more comfortable leaving home without the fear of embarrassment.
7. Make Transportation Available. Many seniors do not drive, and this can become a primary cause of isolation. Helping them to safely use public transportation, find safe walking routes, or find other transportation options, can increase feelings of independence.
Our office can guide a family through issues impacting your elderly loved ones. Please contact our office today to schedule a meeting with attorney Alan Hougum.