One of the biggest challenges in elderly care is improving social involvement in seniors everyday lives. Senior isolation is not always thought of as a primary concern for seniors, but it should be. Studies have shown that social isolation, not only presents serious emotional risks, it also has a devastating effect on seniors’ physical health. For these reasons, it’s important that anyone charged with the care of an aging parent or relative does their best to ensure frequent social interaction and engagement.
At Visiting Angels, our elderly care providers not only provide vital companionship to many of our clients, we also help families find other ways to get seniors socially involved. We’d love to help you do the same, which is why we’ve put together the following short guide to keeping your aging loved one socially active.
The Risks of Senior Isolation
It’s easy to underestimate the risks of senior isolation. Since senior isolation is primarily thought of as a social and emotional issue, many people involved with elderly care assume that its effects don’t extend to physical health. However, recent research has shown that social isolation has devastating emotional and physical effects on seniors.
Senior isolation has been shown to increase the risk for all of the following:
- Cognitive decline
- Long-term illness
- High blood pressure
- Alcoholism & drug abuse
- Susceptibility to fraud and other forms of elder abuse
Making Social Activity Part of Elderly Care
To properly combat senior isolation, we suggest encouraging social activity as part of your loved one’s elderly care program. There are all sorts of ways you can encourage social activity for your loved one.
Some of these are easier than others, depending on the person and their preferences. The key, as with any elderly care plan, is to find a solution that works for your loved one and their lifestyle.
- Increase Your Time with Them. If you can, increase the amount of time you spend visiting and interacting with your loved one. Frequent short visits are better than infrequent long visits, and regular phone calls can help when you’re unable to be there in person.
- Encourage Family to Visit. Express your concerns to other family members and encourage them to visit and become involved with your loved one’s elderly care.
- Consider an Animal Companion. So long as your loved one is able to care for a pet, a new animal companion like a cat or dog can make a world of difference to feelings of loneliness.
- Suggest Visiting & Hosting Friends. If your loved one seems to be turning away from the world, encourage them to reach out to friends for visits and get-togethers.
- Encourage Outside Activities. Have your loved one join you on trips to the grocery store, afternoons at the movies, and other activities that get them out of the home.
- Suggest Joining a Club or Volunteering. Group activities, such as a book club, bridge club, or senior fitness class, can be a great way to promote social interaction. You might also want to suggest volunteering with an organization like your local church, theater, or library.
- Companion Care Services. One of the elderly care services offered by Visiting Angels is companion care, which provides your loved one with regular visits from a Visiting Angels companion.
For more tips on making social interaction a part of your loved one’s elderly care plan, or to discuss companion care services from a professional elderly care provider, call your local Visiting Angels today.