Ways to Help Seniors Socialize and Avoid Isolation

By Ruby Cemental

Among the many issues that seniors have to navigate during the course of their lives, dealing with feelings of isolation and "being alone" are an increasing concern. Whether a senior lives by themselves or within an assisted living facility, it is important to work with them in fulfilling any desires they may have to interact more with the rest of the world. Here are a few simple tips to help seniors socialize to avoid feeling isolated beyond their comfort levels.

Benefits of Being Social

Being social not only helps seniors feel less isolated, but it offers other benefits too, including the following: 

  • Increased mental alertness: Interacting with others helps keep a person mentally alert and may stave off Alzheimer's disease or dementia. It keeps the senior connected to the outside world and important world or local issues which ultimately help the aging individual maintain their cognitive abilities. 

  • Encourages physical activity: Socializing is more than just a mental activity, it is encourages physical activity. The senior is automatically spurred to get moving even if it's just talking.

  • Fights depression: Loneliness often causes severe bouts of depression and feelings of hopelessness. In severe cases, the senior may start to lose the will to live. Social contact and the secure knowledge that others care will help prevent or fight depression. 

  • Relieves physical discomfort: Pain is often an accepted part of growing older. Failing joints, arthritis, and other health challenges are a common complaint of seniors. However, social contact helps take the senior's mind off their physical ailments and focus on other things. 

  • Creates a support system: Staying in close contact with friends and family helps create and maintain a support system that will aid the senior not only emotionally but also if he needs assistance.

  • Extends life: In a study carried out by the Brigham Young University and the University of Chapel Hill North Carolina, researchers found that seniors living in isolated conditions with few social contacts faced a 50 percent higher risk of dying in five years than seniors that remained socially active. 

Ways for Seniors To Socialize

Participate Local Activities

A hefty issue with much of the senior community these days is that many members begin to lose sight of their sense of purpose as they continue on into their golden years. Signing up for social events, such as game nights, weekly outings to the movies, or book clubs, provide seniors with the sense that they have something to look forward to and something to be a part of each week.

Seniors can even look for volunteer groups. This type of involvement can help them feel fulfilled while also giving them the interaction they need. 

Incorporate Social Media & Technology

Thanks to technology, it's now easier than ever to stay in contact with the people we care about. Social media provides seniors with an easy and often instantaneous method of socializing with family and friends, even if they are living a relatively solitary life.

And don't forget about the devices that allow you to use social media. Technology allows seniors to call or video chat with family members. There are even phones designed with larger buttons and louder speakers for seniors.

Provide Reliable Transportation

The sense that you're trapped in your own home or assisted living facility is no doubt a terrible feeling to deal with, particularly if you're already feeling isolated as it is. No one ever wants to believe that they are stranded or unable to leave and participate in the activities that are important to them.

If a senior is capable of driving, ensure that they have a reliable vehicle with which to go about their day. Alternatively, if they are unable to operate a vehicle for any reason, it's equally important to make sure that they have a reliable, on-call means of transportation that they can utilize as they see fit. 

Adopt a Pet

Pets are a wonderful form of companionship for seniors, and the responsibilities associated with their care and upkeep ties into providing a sense of purpose and duty for their senior owner. Dogs are very social and engaging creatures, while cats tend to be a bit more introverted and independent. Evaluate what will work best for your loved one and their unique needs. 

Enjoy Meals Socially

Eating is a social event for many cultures around the world, and it is widely understood that we're supposed to enjoy our meals in the company of others as often as possible, not only to fulfill our basic need for social interaction, but to make the meal that much more enjoyable as well. Making sure that seniors have at least a handful of meals each week where they are joined by friends or family members can go a significantly long way in reducing any overwhelming feelings of isolation. 

Companion Services

For elderly who need assistance as they age, one option that can be helpful in staying social is home care. Home care is great because the senior is able to stay in their own home and gain the companionship they need. By having this freedom, they will have more opportunity to connect with friends, whereas they would rely on visitors when living in a nursing home.

In this day and age, there's no reason for anyone to ever feel like they are alone if they don't wish to be. With these tips, seniors can stay social and reap the benefits of spending time with others. 

At Caring Senior Service, our expert staff is comprised of extremely knowledgeable, friendly, and trusted professionals who take pride in helping your loved one manage their daily activities. Contact the Caring office near you

Tags: Senior Isolation