Socially isolated seniors have a 59% greater risk of mental and physical decline than those who don’t experience social isolation. Socialization has also been shown to slow Alzheimer’s and dementia patient’s decline.
The Laconia Daily Sun’s recent article entitled “Loneliness and isolation can affect senior health” says that, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, 11 million, or 28% of people who are aged 65 and older now live alone and almost half of women over 75 live alone.
You can take intentional steps to decrease isolation and reduce lack of contact to improve your overall wellbeing. Let’s look at how can seniors foster connection and reduce loneliness:
- Engage in Social Media. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social media sites can help seniors stay connected to friends and family across the country and around the world! Many social media platforms also have chat functions, games and other features that foster connection.
- Togetherness Activities. These types of activities reduce lack of contact. They can be in-person, when possible, or through video chat and phone calls. They can include conversations, cooking and eating together, reading together, playing games, scrapbooking, or listening to music. Moreover, research shows that planning and anticipating an event has mental health benefits.
- Online Interaction. This can be a virtual meet-up, online worship, Facebook trivia night, or virtual communities focused on hobbies. This helps seniors connect to others in their community without leaving home.
- Virtual Volunteers. For those looking for a sense of purpose, there are opportunities to volunteer to help others from home, which can include sewing quilts for shelters, writing cards for military service members overseas and other activities that let people to do good works in their free time.
Isolation and loneliness can be signals that a senior lacks the support and tools required to live a healthy, independent life. However, with planning and deliberate action, fostering positive relationships and connections can be incredibly rewarding for everyone involved. For seniors that need companionship or help in combating loneliness, caregivers can also help with encouragement, support and assistance with daily living. They can also encourage overall health through meal planning, grocery shopping, meal preparation and activities.
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Reference: Laconia Daily Sun (Nov. 5, 2021) “Loneliness and isolation can affect senior health”