Ending Social Isolation In Seniors

ending social isolation in seniors

AARP and other senior surveys cite that up to 90% of seniors would prefer to age-in-place, in the comfort of their neighborhoods and home if it were safe to do so. 

And, while safety measures such as accessible home improvements and scaled, in-home care providers are often a focus, family caregivers can forget that supporting a senior’s social life can be equally as important for his/her health and wellbeing. 

Social Isolation Causes Loneliness, Depression, & Anxiety 

Aging-in-place translates to “living alone” for the majority of seniors, and this can lead to social isolation. Age-related decline and mortality, combined with driving restrictions and mobility issues, can cause a senior’s social life to shrink at exponential rates.  

Unfortunately, a lack of social interaction leading to social isolation in seniors is linked to escalating health conditions such as: 

  • Depression 
  • Heart disease 
  • High blood pressure 
  • More rapid cognitive decline 
  • Stroke 
  • Anxiety 
  • Sleep disorders 

These findings exemplify how important it is to prioritize the health of your senior loved one’s social life, as well as their physical and mental health. 

Ideas to support a vibrant senior social life 

Here are ideas that support a senior’s social life and that work to end senior social isolation.  

Provide the support required to maintain their current social calendar 

Does your parent have a busy social calendar, filled to the brim with lunch dates, Rotary or Kiwanis meetings, social functions at their local spiritual center, hair and nail appointments, etc.? Don’t let those fall by the wayside just because s/he can’t drive anymore or isn’t able to safely or confidently use public transportation. 

Take some time to organize carpools with other members of those groups who are still able to drive, take advantage of senior-specific public transport such as Dial-a-Ride, or begin interviewing local, licensed senior care providers that offer driving as part of their services menu. 

Hire a companion to prevent social isolation

Companion services are one of the most popular in-home care options. When you hire a companion, your senior loved one instantly gains a social connection with benefits. In addition to keeping seniors company, reading, listening to music, and driving clients to and from regular social engagements, companionship services can also be expanded to include things like errand running and grocery shopping, cooking meals or keeping seniors company while they eat, dining out at a favorite restaurant, attending community events, and so on. 

Even if your loved one has transitioned into an assisted living or nursing home facility, caregivers can still support their social interaction with regularly scheduled visits that are tailored to the client’s interests and hobbies. 

Get them active as community volunteers 

There are loads of non-profit and volunteer-driven groups in your area who are looking for caring individuals with time on their hands. Does that sound like your senior loved one? Getting seniors active in their communities, providing much-needed hands-on support is a win-win for everyone.  

In addition to providing help and care to those in need, volunteering helps to make seniors feel productive, needed, and essential – something that can slip by the wayside if their long-term care plan doesn’t include social interaction. Read our post Volunteer Opportunities Are a Win-Win for Everyone to learn more about potential volunteering needs here in the Bay Area. You can double-down on the wins by getting the whole family involved in Grandma or Grandpa’s favorite charity every once in a while. What better way to spend time together as a family? 

Make sure they’re getting ample time with grandchildren 

Speaking of win-winds and time spent together as a family, study after study shows how important it is for children to spend time with their grandparents. If Alzheimer’s or dementia make it unsafe for unsupervised visits, there are still so many ways children can benefit by reading to their grandparent, listening to their favorite songs or hearing grandparents’ stories as they watch old movies or pictures. 

Grandchildren are young, vibrant, and have a unique, heart-to-heart connection when they have the time to develop a relationship. Countless studies show the benefits for children who have the opportunity to spend more time with grandparents, including greater self-confidence and more focus in school. Visit The Benefits of Spending Time With Grandparents to learn more. 

Optimize the benefits of technology for face-to-face time 

If your parent or grandparent isn’t a natural technophile, s/he is still in luck. Companies like Samsung are creating tablets that are specifically geared for seniors by simplifying the connection process. While Zoom has become a superstar during the era of COVID-19 and sheltering-in-place, Skype and Google Video Hangouts also offer opportunities to connect “face-to-face” with children, grandchildren, or peers who have relocated over the years.  

Piggy-backing on our advice to spend more time with grandchildren, seniors with younger grandkids can check out software platforms like Caribu, that allow adults to read with children while looking at the same book (via the screen, of course) – no matter how many miles are between them. 

Ending social isolation in seniors means finding ways to make seniors feel needed, wanted, and loved – something we can all understand.

We’re Always Here

Interested in learning more about companion services and other in-home care options that provide sparks of warmth and human connection in your senior loved one’s life? Contact us here at HomeAide Home Care. We’ve provided personalized, person-to-person care and companionship to Bay Area seniors for 20-years and counting. 

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