We all have a need to be connected to others. It’s just a fact of life. We’re all social creatures – some more than others, but our social connections keep us healthier in our minds and in our bodies.
Gerontologists have studied the effects of social connection and found that seniors who disengage, or recluse themselves are at the highest risk of dying. That’s a scary finding, don’t you agree? The older we get, the more we might suffer from mobility issues. Some of us will have to give up our car keys, while others will suffer from diminished eyesight and hearing. All these can contribute to an elder disconnecting from the people who make their lives interesting and meaningful.
It’s imperative that we stay socially connected with friends and family members as it is good for our overall health. Be sure to watch out for any signs of loneliness or depression in our elders. Provide them with activities that keep them socially active and engaged. There are so many ways to help an elder who is having trouble getting out and socializing. Encourage them to stay connected through any avenue we can find. With modern technology, there are so many options to help seniors maintain social connections.
Here are some helpful tips on how you can help seniors stay active and engaged:
Telephones are especially important to older people. Make sure your older loved ones have a cell phone or a landline. My father suffers from hearing loss, and I was able to get him a phone that has a volume control for those with hearing loss. This phone not only rings loud, but also has a flashing light. He loves it. At 80, he loves calling the grandkids and the great grandkids. It keeps him in the loop for all those sport events that he loves to attend. More and more seniors carry a smart phone nowadays making it easier to FaceTime or Video call their friends and loved ones.
Transportation can be a problem the older we get. Even if your elderly loved one still drives, they might be driving a lot less due to fear of an accident, or of getting lost. We all need to be aware of how much our older loved ones are socializing. We can make it a point to ask them if they’d like us to take them to church, or to the grocery store. If your loved one belongs to a club, or might enjoy the local senior center, many will accommodate their transportation to and from the gatherings.
Hobbies are a way we can encourage our loved ones to stay connected. Is your loved one an avid gardener and has gleaned a lot of wisdom of plants through the years? Why not get them involved with a local public garden. Perhaps they can help teach a class, or serve as a docent. Elders love to be needed and to share their knowledge. They’ve stored up a lot of wisdom over the years. Even elders with dementia can still enjoy many hobbies they’ve done in the past. Skills such as knitting and crocheting are not lost on most elders who suffer from even moderate dementia. Find out if your community has a knitting group. You’ll find that a lot of talking goes on between the stitches!
Worship services are another place where elders can stay connected. If they’ve been a long time member of a religious group, make sure they have a way to get there each week. If you are unable to take them, let someone in the congregation know of their need. Most religious groups have lots of activities going on through the week. There’s sure to be one that your loved one would enjoy attending.
Assisted living communities can be the answer for many elders who are failing in health, both mentally and physically. I’ve interviewed many seniors in assisted living who said they had never wanted to leave their homes, but are now very glad they did. Almost all senior communities offer a plethora of activities to keep elders socializing and active. If your elder is reluctant to move, try just taking them for lunch and a tour of local communities. It might just change their mind. Most communities offer a free dinner or lunch just so you’ll tour their facilities. Don’t be surprised if your loved one sees someone they already know. That might be all it takes for them to reconsider.
If you need help with Assisted Living options, call us at 877-523-6523 to speak to one of our Expert Senior Care Advisors. We can provide you with Free and personalized Assisted Living options based on your elderly loved one’s care needs, preferred location and your family’s budget.
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About The Author: Karen Everett Watson is a Gerontologist and has over 20 years experience as a Journalist. Karen has spent 4 years in the senior community interviewing retirement community residents. She also writes articles for SeniorCareHomes.com, a comprehensive Assisted Living online directory, trusted by seniors and families. SeniorCareHomes.com also provides free placement services to help Seniors and their families find assisted living based on the senior’s care needs, family’s budget and location.