Seventeenth-century author John Donne penned the infamous words, “No man is an island.”
He was alluding to the fact that no one is totally self-sufficient; everyone relies on and needs others. Human beings thrive in a community and suffer silently when they isolate themselves.
This rings particularly true for seniors. One study found that 60-year-olds who visited with friends almost daily were 12 percent less likely to develop dementia than those who only saw one or two friends every few months.
According to The National Institute on Aging, research has linked social isolation and loneliness to an increased risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, depression, cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s disease, and more.
If the senior in your life is spending increasing amounts of time alone and you’ve noticed that they are less interested in spending time with other people, here are five suggestions on how you can encourage them to stay socially active as they age.
1. Encourage Them to Volunteer
Volunteering a few times per week or month not only brings structure to a senior’s life; it also helps create a connection with others.
Over the years, seniors accumulate knowledge in many areas through their life experiences. They can use this knowledge to cook for others, play bridge, chess, or scrabble with people, visit with other seniors about their lives, or play an instrument for others.
2. Help Them Find a Hobby
Practicing and doing something they enjoy fills their time, brings them joy, and helps them meet new people. What have they done in the past just for fun? Did they play the acoustic guitar? Paint? Make pottery?
Help them find something they’ll like and will stick to it. They’ll spend hours immersed in their hobbies and socialize with old acquaintances and new friends as they enjoy their new pursuits.
3. Use Education to Meet New People
Senior centers and community colleges offer courses in many topics, as do some private businesses. They might enjoy learning about computers or creative writing with others that share a common interest with them. Acquiring new skills and trades can also maintain mental health for seniors.
They also might be able to obtain cognitive and social benefits by learning a new physical activity, such as dancing or water aerobics.
4. Travel With Them
Going to new cities or countries with your senior encourages them to interact with others, even in their own city.
Travel also has its physical benefits with walking and sightseeing.
And, for short outings around town, have them carpool. It’s a great way to socialize.
5. Help Them Embrace Social Media
If your loved one is homebound and unable to get out and about, social media will help them stay connected with friends and family, as well as meeting others through online groups they can join.
If they’re technically challenged, have a younger relative help them get set up. Computers are much easier to understand and work with than they were 20 years ago; your senior will probably pick it up quicker than you think.
Let Us Help Your Senior Loved One Stay Socially Active
Companion care is one of the services we offer at Help at Home. We help seniors combat loneliness by visiting them in their homes, helping them communicate with loved ones by writing letters or emails, engaging them in stimulating activities, such as art projects and reading, helping them with gardening, or just going for a walk with them.
At Help at Home, we strive to provide quality in-home care for families in Chevy Chase, Maryland. We also strive to do the same in Maryland, Virginia, and the Washington, DC Metropolitan area. To put your mind at ease, Help at Home is a fully licensed and insured provider, and all of our caregivers are thoroughly screened beforehand.
Contact us today to discuss your needs or to schedule a free in-home assessment.