Ways to Help Seniors at Home Not Feel Isolated
While many seniors choose to maintain independence and stay at home in their elderly years, the feeling of isolation can often be a challenge. Seniors who live alone and who do not work are more vulnerable to feeling isolated from friends, family and their community. Over time, this isolation can possibly lead to things like depression. To avoid this, seniors who live on their own should be encouraged to maintain a fairly active lifestyle, as long as it doesn’t pose a threat to their physical or mental wellbeing.
Here are a few suggestions as to how you can help seniors living at home avoid feeling isolated:
Coordinate with other family members or friends to plan regular visits.
Seniors living on their own can often feel lonely. Even a short 30 minute visit to chat or help them with a few tasks around the house can be a welcome break from their day to day routine. Talk to others who are close to the person and see if they would be willing to schedule visits. Again, even just stopping by for a quick chat over a lunch break can mean a great deal to a senior who lives alone.
Look into senior activities in the community.
Most local governments will have senior centers that offer an array of activities geared toward older residents. From athletic teams to artistic groups to volunteering opportunities, there are likely a number of outlets for older people to pursue their interests and meet new people. If you can, offer to plan a visit to one of these centers with the senior or offer to pick up some brochures on the services and activities they offer.
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Help arrange outings.
While many seniors who live at home appreciate visitors, it’s just as important for them to feel like they can get out of the house from time to time. But because many seniors may be reluctant to drive very far or are nervous about being out of their home alone, having someone offer to take them somewhere could be a tremendous gift. If they enjoy the arts, offer to take them to a play or concert. If they enjoy being out in nature, ask them to accompany you on a walk through the park. If they like to shop, invite them to come along the next time you go to the mall.
Cook a meal for them.
A lot of seniors may become less active in the kitchen due to the fact that they don’t enjoy cooking for just one person. Or, it could simply be an issue of mobility. If the senior you’re caring for appreciates good food and good company, offer to pick up the ingredients to their favorite meal and suggest that you cook it at their place. And, just as they might appreciate a good home-cooked meal, they would likely appreciate the company as well – so be sure to stay for the food and conversation!
Promote a sense of purpose.
Seniors who were used to living an active, professional and socially vibrant life may feel more isolated after retirement. To help them maintain a feeling of purpose, get to know their interests and skills and help them find ways to contribute to these things. Volunteering is a great way to encourage seniors to get out of the house and socialize, but it also helps them focus on a task that benefits others, rather than dwelling on their own lives and limitations. If a senior used to be a tax professional for instance, encourage them to volunteer their services and expertise at the local senior center. If they are great at knitting, offer to help them find a charity that donates scarves and sweaters to the less fortunate. You can find knitting and crocheting charities here: http://www.lionbrand.com/charityConnection.html
Overall, the most important aspect of preventing isolation in seniors is to simply be there for them. Whether it’s in a small capacity, such as just checking in from time to time with a phone call, or in larger ways such as getting them involved in a church group or volunteering outfit, any interest you can genuinely express in your senior’s life will benefit their mental and physical wellbeing.