Loneliness is difficult at any age, but seniors are particularly susceptible to isolation, which can lead to both mental and physical health issues. Here, Boca Raton caregivers offer four ways to prevent senior isolation and promote senior health.
1. Build a network.
One of the most important weapons against isolation is a healthy social network. Rather than making your loved one dependent on one or two live-in home caregivers, work on building a community of friends and neighbors who are part of your senior’s social “team.” Make a list of the people that your loved one interacts with on a regular basis, and make sure that you have contact information for each person. The key here is building consistent contact. For instance, if your loved one has a regular salon or medical appointment, try to ensure that he or she sees the same stylist, nurse, or doctor on each visit.
2. Build a schedule.
Creating a regular weekly schedule can go a long way in staving off feelings of isolation. While it is not necessary to fill up every spare minute with social interactions, look for gaps in the schedule where your loved one may appreciate some additional contact. Building things like worship, medical care, and exercise into the schedule can provide reliable social encounters that a senior can enjoy on a regular basis. Consider coordinating transportation to these outings as a means of building additional social interaction into the weekly schedule.
3. De-mystify technology.
These days, “social networking” often means connecting via technology and social media. Although computers can be intimidating for seniors, smartphones and tablets offer easy access to social media platforms—a few lessons in social media etiquette may be in order, however. In addition to social media, things like FaceTime and Skype also make it possible to have face-to-face conversations from thousands of miles away. These interactions would make excellent additions to the weekly schedule, and with a little practice, most seniors find the technology manageable.
4. Remember other living things.
Pet ownership has a number of benefits for humans of all ages, and caring for a pet can also help seniors prevent isolation. Assuming that your loved one is capable of caring for an animal, consider introducing a small pet into his or her household. The regular pet care can be a soothing outlet and even a source of home security. If the responsibility of a pet is too great, consider adding other living things into the house—houseplants and herb gardens provide something for your senior to do while also enjoying the care of a living organism.
Remember that no one person can be responsible for a senior’s healthy social life—it should never fall to a single caregiver to provide every meaningful social interaction. By implementing a regular weekly schedule that distributes social interactions across a number of people and settings, you can help your loved one avoid isolation and reduce your own stress as well.
For help meeting your elderly relative’s care needs, call Home Care Assistance at (561) 826.9282. As a leading senior care agency in Boca Raton, we help families just like yours manage their loved one’s care needs, offering everything from help around the house to emotional support and companionship. Reach out today and schedule a free in-home consultation to learn more.