Loneliness and isolation are commonly experienced as we age. It’s important for older adults to know they’re not alone in these feelings, and that they needn’t be permanent.
Now more than ever as we emerge from the pandemic, our elderly relatives might be feeling a little more vulnerable or alone. Perhaps your parent or loved one has even lost friends over the last year which has made socialization more difficult.
With the older generation typically needing to self-isolate for longer periods compared to the general population, they may be feeling quite overwhelmed at the thought of getting out and socializing again, or even just unsure on where to start.
And with loneliness posing a real risk to mental and physical health – increasing the chances of things like heart disease and stroke, along with mental health issues like depression and anxiety – ensuring your loved one maintains social contact is vital.
Luckily, there is plenty you can do to help your loved one get out and about and enjoy their post-pandemic life! Let’s take a look at just a few ways you can get your parent or senior loved one back into a social circle they love.
- Help them to tackle barriers. As we age, we begin to face a range of new and at times frustrating physical barriers. Things like incontinence and struggling with sight and hearing deficits can make going out feel very daunting. There are things you can do to help your parent or loved one with this, empowering them to feel more confident in heading out to connect with others and forge new friendships. For example, why not offer to arrange a hearing test or hearing aid fitting? This could be of benefit to them and make them feel more confident, safe, and secure.
- Offer help with transportation. Many seniors find the prospect of navigating roadways or constantly changing public transportation systems a little overwhelming, which may put them off getting out and about as they would like to. Offering to drive your loved one to a friend’s home, group they love, or to an organized event at a senior living community in Tucson could be just the encouragement they need! It may also be worth checking if there are any free, easy transportation services available for seniors in their area.
- Speak to their neighbors. If you do not live nearby, it’s certainly worth checking in with your parent’s trusted neighbors to see if they could offer a friendly face, without them even needing to leave the comfort of their home. Many individuals will jump at the opportunity to support an elderly neighbor. Not only can trusted neighbors provide reassurance that your loved one has a friend looking out for them, but they can be a great source of social support, too. Because after all, what is more heart-warming than your loved ones sharing a cup of coffee with a neighbor checking in to make sure they are well.
- Teach them digital skills. Social media often gets a bad reputation, but for aging seniors who don’t yet feel confident venturing outside, it could be just the lifeline they need. Providing your loved one with a tablet, cell phone or laptop that they can use to stay connected – and teaching them how to use it – could be the perfect compromise! Modern technologies like video calling are a great tool and, importantly, can mimic the feeling of the face-to-face contact we all need. Many senior living communities in Tucson work with families to regularly schedule calls with family members so that their residents stay connected.
- Encourage them to restart an old hobby or take up a new one. Joining groups of individuals with a common interest is a great way to tackle loneliness, forming strong new friendships with like-minded people. Equally, it’s never too late to take up a brand-new hobby, so why not research local groups and classes with them to see if anything tickles their fancy? If they still have good levels of mobility, joining a walking group or a workout class for seniors could be an excellent way for them to stay physically healthy and well socialized.
As we age, staying in touch with others is essential not only for our mental health, but our physical health, too. If you suspect your parent or loved one is isolating themselves or struggling to get out and about, it can be difficult. After all, none of us want to think of someone we love feeling alone.
Luckily, there are a range of options available to encourage your loved one to socialize with new and old friends in a way they are comfortable with, and that suits their capabilities. Whether it’s coffee and cake with a neighbor, an exciting new group, a regular video chat or visit from yourself or moving into a retirement community near you.
There are also a range of organizations that specialize in tackling loneliness in the older generation, including the National Council on Aging and AARP.
If you’re struggling to find suitable activities or assisted living communities in Tucson which provide great opportunities to build friendships and socialization, look no further! Contact Saguaro Ranch Luxury Assisted Living today!