Social Isolation Among Seniors

Ways of Preventing Social Isolation Among Seniors

As seniors age, their lives can become more isolated. Their families are no longer at home with them, and they may begin to isolate themselves from the outside world because it has become more difficult for them to get out.

Social isolation among seniors can also impact their health. A study by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences showed that seniors have a 26 percent higher death risk than the elderly that remain social.

Elderly that are socially isolated may not have anyone in their lives to care for them, and they can develop signs of illness without realizing that they or anyone else knows they need help.

Signs of social isolation among seniors are refusing to go out or making excuses as to why they’re unwilling to attend events with friends and family.

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Seniors offer a variety of reasons why they may not want to go out in public such as:

  • Not being able to hear well in noisy or crowded areas
  • Not being able to drive or find adequate transportation
  • Difficulty in walking
  • Facilities not being wheelchair friendly
  • Not wanting to ask someone to help
  • Fear of falling in public
  • Going out is too much trouble—it’s easier to stay home

To help your seniors or elderly parents stay social, you need to encourage them to be socially active, and assist them with the reasons that prevent them from meeting with friends and family.

How to Reduce Social Isolation Among Seniors

Helping a senior overcome social isolation is a key step for improving their health. A senior that is socially active with friends and family can have more longevity in their life and be happier as a result.

Try these steps to help your parent avoid social isolation.

  1. Provide transportation.
  2. Not being able to drive makes getting around difficult, but not impossible. Setting up your parent or another senior with an adequate means of getting around is imperative to their social interaction with people.

    Some seniors can navigate public transportation quite nicely. Others may be able to learn how to use car services such as Uber or Lyft. Family members may also offer to transport them, so they don’t miss out on social activities.

    Many communities have specialized transportation services for seniors at low-cost.

  3. Give them a purpose.
  4. Helping a senior find a purpose for their life can help to ward off feelings of isolation. They need to remain active and have something to look forward to on a daily basis.

    Get them involved in a hobby or group so they can feel like they belong and have a goal to achieve each day.

  5. Help with hearing and vision sensitivities.
  6. If your parent or other senior struggles in a social setting because of hearing or vision difficulties, get them the help they need to improve these senses.

    A new hearing aid or glasses prescription may be in order. A visit to the doctor to have a screening can help.

    Improved sight or hearing may allow them to feel more at ease in a social setting and let them communicate more clearly with friends and family.

  7. Provide assistance getting around.
  8. Your parent may be experiencing difficulties getting around that are contributing to their elderly social isolation.

    They may have trouble walking and need a cane or scooter for assistance. Get your parent the accessibility equipment they need so they can stay active and get out to visit with friends and family.

  9. Talk to their neighbors.
  10. A simple thing that you can do to prevent social isolation in seniors is to let a neighbor know that they are alone.

    A simple visit from a neighborly friend can brighten any senior’s day. This can provide the check-in that they need and will give them the opportunity to talk to someone.

  11. Share a meal together.
  12. Eating alone can be one of the most isolating events for a senior that once had a family to share meals with.

    Encourage seniors to eat dinner with family or friends or participate in group senior meals. Schedule regular mealtime outings for your parent and make sure they have someone to share their dinner with.

  13. Address incontinence issues.
  14. Incontinence can be an embarrassing issue for seniors. They may avoid going out and being with others as a result.

    Address these issues head-on and provide your parent or senior friends with the medication or supplies they need to feel confident.

    Giving your parents or other seniors the freedom to meet with friends and family on a regular basis can help prevent elderly social isolation.

    The act of socializing with others can go a long way towards improving their mental health and ensure that loneliness doesn’t set in.

    Address the issues that the elderly find difficult about being in social situations and watch them thrive as they get the opportunity to mingle with others.

Sources:

http://www.aplaceformom.com/blog/help-seniors-avoid-social-isolation-8-14-2014/
http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/news/20130325/isolation-loneliness-may-raise-death-risk-for-elderly#1
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/social-isolation-may-shorten-the-lives-of-seniors/