Social isolation is a rising concern worldwide, especially among seniors. With age, the elderly frequently experience social isolation, a condition that can take a heavy toll on their health and happiness. Elderly individuals are especially susceptible to social isolation and loneliness due to a lack of friends, family, mobility or income.
Reasons for Social Isolation
Social isolation among the elderly takes place when negligible interaction with other people keeps them from developing intimate or fulfilling relationships. There isn’t just a single reason in particular; instead there are several reasons that cause social isolation. Factors that can contribute to social isolation include:
- Lack of transportation
- Health challenges
- Being a caregiver
- Loss of a spouse
- Loss of friends
- Living in distant or rural areas
How Social Isolation Impacts the Health of the Elderly
Studies reveal that intense loneliness and social isolation can have a severe effect on one’s well-being and quality of life, with apparent negative health impacts. Some of the serious health consequences of social isolation for seniors include:
- Enhanced mortality
- High blood pressure
- Reduced resistance to infection
- Cognitive decline
- Psychological problems like depression and dementia
- Multiplied emergency hospital admission
- Prolonged hospital stays and delayed discharges
Preventing Social Isolation in the Elderly
How can you help to tackle this situation and turnaround this negative trend? By taking steps to decrease social isolation among your elderly loved ones, you can enhance their quality of life, minimize risk of grave health conditions, and possibly even prolong their life. Here are the 7 steps you can take to promote social interaction among elderly people:
- Encourage Pet or Plant Adoption
Offering a plant or pet to care for gives a feeling of nurturing and ownership that will be beneficial for uplifting a senior’s spirits and providing them with a sense of routine purpose. There is also a certain link between elderly pet owners and a reduced need for medication.
- Manage Isolating Health Issues
A significant aspect of aging is that your body doesn’t work as well. Help the elderly by providing relief through consultation with medical professionals for any health problems that are preventing an older loved one from going out of the house for socializing with others.
- Provide Accessible Transportation
A bus pass can be helpful for your elderly loved one as long as your senior is self-reliant enough to take a bus ride alone. Employing senior care services can assist as well; a caregiver can provide rides to medical appointments and for shopping.
- Promote Weekly Church Visits
This is an essential weekly social event for older adults who were regular church-goers, but now need to be supported. Such a weekly outing not only promotes social interaction with their acquaintances, but also a feeling of purposeful existence and enjoyment in the gathering.
- Help Avoid Getting Physically Isolated
If a loved one’s physical isolation seems concerning, suggest them relocating to a more supportive area where they can experience a sense of community. Your loved one can receive ongoing opportunities to interact with neighbors and have easy access to medics and discounted service providers.
- Help with Hearing and Vision Sensitivities
Getting a new hearing aid or the right glasses after a proper medical checkup will allow the elderly to feel more at ease in social settings and allow them to communicate more clearly with friends and family.
- Bridge Communication Gaps Through Technology
Health linked products for seniors, like a video intercom service, can assist and engage your seniors by bringing families together. A hearing-impaired phone that creates captions for whatever is spoken by the caller has been to decrease social isolation and loneliness in the elderly.