Stay Connected & Engaged
Isolation and loneliness are serious problems for older adults.
Sadly, 43% of people over 60 are reporting that they are suffering from loneliness.
It may be due to
- Loss of a spouse
- Physical decline like decreased mobility, hearing and vision, resulting in loss of driving ability
- Death of peers
- Reluctance to make new friends
- Limited social outings and interactions
- Unfamiliarity with technology
Remaining in one’s home is often a goal but it can result in extreme social isolation. Even if caregivers stop-in to check on the aging person, life often lacks fun and excitement.
Geographically distant family members become overwhelmed with guilt and uncertainty of how to help combat the loneliness from afar.
It becomes worrisome when they hear aging relatives express enthusiasm about social connections in offshore countries and optimism about winning lotteries.
While contests and social media platforms can be fun, they can also cause multiple problems, especially if your loved one begins sending money to unscrupulous ‘connections’ from afar.
Loneliness is linked to disease and even death. Those who feel isolated and alone are sicker and often die sooner.
It’s important to build safe social networks, in person or digitally, at all ages, but especially for older adults living alone.
1. Stay in Touch Frequently & Regularly
Put yourself in their place. Imagine living alone and never speaking to or connecting with anyone other than a retail clerk or medical staffer.
Make it a point to call or visit regularly. Maybe you check-in with a phone call every day at a certain time or every Sunday, for instance, you meet for lunch. Your senior will look forward to each of these contacts.
Increase your contact volume and keep a regular schedule.
While you’re there in person, go through the mail.
Do you see anything that looks suspect, like phony offers of prizes from lotteries and sweepstakes or envelopes from foreign countries? If so, talk about this and remind them of the possible risks of these sorts of activities.
Remember, anytime you’re asked to send money to collect a prize, it’s not legitimate.
2. Introduce & Teach Technology
People of a certain age may not own or even use technology like those younger than them.
This doesn’t mean they don’t have the ability to learn.
Investing in a computer or tablet with a camera is a great way to help an aging relative feel connected.
Let the grandchild teach them how to use it, establishing a memorable bond.
Check out community education classes for seniors.
A whole new world can open up to an aging relative willing to learn how to use technology.
3. Attend Events Together
Few older adults want to learn a new craft or be pushed into an activity they never enjoyed or participated in while younger.
Instead, go down memory lane with them.
Ask what activities they fondly recall from day’s past. Maybe it’s the annual fall festival or the church fish fry, or even the Christmas concert at the elementary school. Whatever it is, make plans to attend together.
Be sure you get the tickets and make the travel arrangements so the event is worry-free for them.
4. Relive the Old Times
Make a date to sit with them a look through family scrapbooks, home movies and photo albums to relive memories. You may be amazed what new information you learn.
Or, pull out a favorite recipe to make together. Or find a card or board game and play it.
Let them take the lead and tell you what activity from their past brought them the greatest joy, and then do it together with patience.
Doing these beloved activities with grandchildren will only heighten the experience.
Maybe your aging loved one was never a “joiner” but it doesn’t hurt to try and encourage them to participate in the many community events for senior citizens.
Get online and research availability and maybe even join them for an activity or two to ease the transition.
It’s proven that social interaction and activity extends one’s life span. This is a great, easy way to start them getting more social interaction.
© May 2020. Craft LifeStyle Management. All rights reserved.
Written by Linda Leier Thomason for Craft LifeStyle Management.
Denise Craft founded Craft LifeStyle Management in 1988 to ease the burden for families of the aging, veterans, and special needs adults during times of transition. She understands what’s involved in transitioning any individual from their personal home to their next home and to end of life. Her seasoned knowledge of available placement services, housing options, eligible benefits and payor sources, and community resources is endless.
Please contact Denise Craft LifeStyle Management for all of your transitional needs.