Helping Seniors Fight Social Isolation
Sometimes, helping a senior stay healthy can be as simple as picking up the phone and having a conversation.
One of the biggest problems that older adults face is social isolation. All throughout life, things like hope, joy, love, purpose, and connection are extremely important for health and wellbeing. These factors only become more important as we grow older, but they also become more difficult to achieve. If a senior is socially isolated, it is difficult for them to maintain these things in their life. As a result, their health may decline more rapidly than it would otherwise.
Seniors withdraw socially for a variety of reasons. For instance, an older adult struggling with hearing loss may choose to avoid social situations because he or she feels unable to participate in conversations. That sense of auditory isolation breeds social isolation. It’s also not uncommon for seniors to avoid social situation due to fears about appearance or hygiene.
Luckily, friends, neighbors, and family members can make a big difference with just a few simple gestures. Schedule regular family dinners with the seniors in your life and use them as an opportunity to catch up. Give a senior a ride to one of the places where they need to go—be it the grocery store, the doctor’s office, or Sunday church service. Pick up the phone and have a 20-minute conversation. Send a letter, card, or photograph or in the mail. Make it clear that you care. Even taking just a small amount of time and effort to draw a senior out of their shell will, for them, translate to feelings of being loved and valued.
And if you notice that an older adult in your life is withdrawing from social situations for a specific reason, confront it. Ask your parents or grandparents if they’ve had a hearing test lately, or encourage them to get one. Assuage their fears about appearance by telling them that they look great and you like their outfit. These simple interactions can help pave the way for more socialization in the future, which is healthy for all parties—no matter the age.