There’s an abundance of evidence which shows that there’s a direct link between a healthy social life and good mental/physical health. Alternatively, data also suggest that social isolation and loneliness can lead to poor health outcomes. Multiple studies have shown that seniors in nursing homes who are isolated, experience a shorter life expectancy. In fact, a study which was published in the Journal of Primary Prevention shows that social isolation can have a negative impact on older adults such as increased risk for dementia, all-cause mortality, re-hospitalization and other detrimental health effects. Therefore, caregivers should strive to help seniors avoid social isolation so that they can be in better health. In this post we take a look at 10 ways caregivers can help seniors avoid loneliness.
1) Service Animals and Therapy Pets
Caring for a pet, can give senior adults in nursing homes a new found sense of purpose. Not only will they have something that they can interact with to combat feelings of loneliness, experts suggest that pet therapy is medicinal in the sense that it can help to lower blood pressure and anxiety, as well as to boost memory. Caring for a cat or dog can also be rewarding for older adults who crave companionship.
Some seniors in nursing homes may avoid being social with other people as a result of worrying about their physical appearance. One of the ways caregivers can help them to overcome this is to exercise more often. Exercise can help the elderly in multiple ways. Besides the fact that it can help to keep them physically, mentally and emotionally fit, it can help to give them a positive body image which in turn can give them more confidence when it comes to interacting with other people. In addition to that, once senior citizens start exercising, they may gravitate towards the ideas of going to a group exercise class like tai chi or yoga.
Incontinence is a condition which many adults find embarrassing. For senior citizens, incontinence can make them hesitant when it comes to leaving their home. As time goes by, they become more and more isolated until they begin to experience loneliness. As such, it’s highly recommended that health professionals and caregivers ensure that incontinence related issues are addressed such as providing them with the right supplies and medications. Once this issue is addressed seniors will be more willing to go out into public without fearing that they may experience incontinence related issues as they try to interact with people outside.
4) Encourage Social Dining
Eating with other people is inherently social because people communicate when they eat together. Dining with other people opens up the possibility for individuals to catch up on each other as well as to partake in some truly meaningful conversations. In fact, social dining is one of the most critical elements in senior living communities, health clubs, nursing homes, country clubs and senior centers.
5) Undiagnosed Vision And Hearing Issues
Senior citizens in nursing homes who have undiagnosed vision and hearing issues tend to avoid social settings because of the embarrassment they feel when they struggle to communicate. Therefore, caregivers should encourage older adults to get their vision and hearing checked, if they notice an issue. Vision tests in the elderly are especially important because vision issues significantly limit an individual’s ability to socially interact with others.
6) Make Use Of Adaptive Technologies
Adaptive technologies such as hearing aids and walkers can help older adults compensate for age related issues which can negatively affect their ability to interact with others. Unfortunately, many seniors don’t use these types of technologies because of a lack of awareness that they even exist. But, by providing seniors in nursing homes with knowledge about new adaptive technologies which can help to address age related deficits, it will increase the chances that they will feel comfortable enough to have a social life.
7) Make Transportation Available
Statistics show that one of the number one reasons why seniors in nursing homes experience feelings of loneliness, is because they do not have access to adequate transportation. Unfortunately, many older adults are not able to drive which itself is a big deal to them. Anything that can help them to get around can help to promote their social health.
8) Community Resources For The Elderly
Most suburban and rural areas have resources for the elderly, like senior centers which can help to provide the elderly with opportunities to interact with new people and make friends. Senior centers provide different group based entertainment and social activities like bingo. Even if your elderly loved one may not like the idea of joining a senior center, you can encourage them to just try it one time. One of the things you can do in this regard is to accompany them when they go for their first visit.
9) Bring Them To Places They Enjoy
In some cases, your loved one may simply not go to a senior center, regardless of how hard you try. This shouldn’t be taken personally, because each person has their own set of likes and dislikes, some seniors may just hate the concept of playing bingo for instance. But, one of the things you can do that will definitely make them motivated to go out into the public is to bring them to events that they actually enjoy. This can be anything from a comedy show, concerts, theaters, community festivals or farmers’ market. Seniors are more likely to partake in a social activity that they actually enjoyed when they were younger, as opposed to learning how to conduct new activities.
10) Stay In Touch
Sometimes, the most effective thing you can do is to maintain frequent contact with your loved one, especially if they are in a nursing home. So, if you got used to the habit of calling your elderly loved one, on a monthly or even weekly basis, maybe it’s time to turn up the frequency. In addition to that, pay attention to special occasions and events such as their anniversary, holiday season, milestone birthday or if they lost a friend. The key thing to remember, is that you shouldn’t have a special reason as to why you contact them, it should be something that you do regularly to uplift their spirits. If you are looking for senior care residences in South Florida or senior care residences in South Carolina, contact Golden Bell today.