Socialization is important for seniors, as it provides numerous benefits to their health and well-being. On the other side of the spectrum, social isolation and loneliness can lead to a higher risk of health problems, including dementia, heart disease, and premature death. In addition to physical health risks, loneliness takes a toll on emotional and mental health.
Yet socialization can become more difficult as people age. This is especially true with the impact of COVID-19, which has isolated seniors more than ever as our society tries to keep them safe from the spread. This pandemic has caused even seniors who were previously socially active to temporarily lose those connections and be alone much of the time.
Fortunately, there are steps to take that help with preventing senior loneliness by keeping seniors busy and full of purpose. Here are some tips:
Find Purpose Through a Schedule
Upsets in a regular schedule can lead to an unsettled life. While the openness of each day can create possibilities and potential, it could also lead to uncertainty, stress, doubt, and loneliness. Instead, seniors can find purpose by filling their days with activities that are part of a routine.
Seniors can schedule exercises, hobbies, errands and bills, and time talking with others. The routine can keep them busy and focused, which can keep them from feeling lonely. Also, scheduling time to reach out to other people can ensure that seniors follow through and have some type of socialization each day.
Seek Out Different Ways to Be Social
Seniors may need to adapt as their lives change and find new ways to interact with others over time. For example, the physical isolation of COVID-19 has created the need to use technology to stay social. Seniors can utilize technological applications like Zoom, chat apps like Duo or Facetime, social media, texting, email, and other methods to maintain contact with their friends and family. They can even stay in touch with social groups this way or find new ones virtually, such as book clubs or hobby groups. In particular, programs that use two-way video can create a better form of social interaction compared to typing.
Nonetheless, computers, smartphones or tablets are not a requisite for being social in today’s world. Seniors can always turn to the phone to call friends and family members. They can write letters, including through pen pal programs to other lonely people such as soldiers overseas or other seniors in facilities. During coronavirus isolation, they may find creative ways to be around others in person by social distancing, interacting through a window, or otherwise practicing safety measures, as is possible for each person and situation.
Try New Hobbies and Activities
One way to help prevent senior loneliness is through new hobbies or activities. Isolation can offer an opportunity to develop oneself. A person can explore new things they might enjoy and participate in activities they may not have previously tried. They may also reignite an interest in something they liked in the past. This could involve solo hobbies and activities, such as arts and crafts, writing, reading, baking, sewing, meditating, birdwatching, or other activities of interest.
It’s also possible to find many online offerings with which to engage. For example, seniors can watch webinars, participate in live-streamed church sessions, join virtual social clubs, engage in political activities, watch YouTube videos and take virtual museum and cultural tours.
These kinds of activities can help a person feel busy, purposeful and engaged, so they feel less lonely. Also, some of these activities involve participating with other people, which helps reduce social isolation and loneliness.
Gain Social Interaction with Animals
Humans are not the only ones who are capable of providing companionship to people. Animals also have the potential to provide social interaction toward preventing senior loneliness. A pet could offer something to take care of and engage with, keeping a senior busy. Also, a pet can provide snuggles, a friend to talk to, someone to watch a movie with, and other benefits. It offers a companion to spend time with and someone to give love to and receive love from in return. Loneliness can feel difficult and can also have dangerous consequences to a senior’s health and longevity. This risk has become heightened as coronavirus precautions have isolated seniors more than ever. Yet there is also benefit to the current time, as increased technology makes it easier than ever to connect with people and programs across the country and world. Following these tips to engage with other people, oneself, and the world can help prevent loneliness and encourage a person to be more purposeful.
Enroll Your Loved One in the Aliviar Care Senior Life Center
At Aliviar Care, our team of licensed nurses is committed to helping seniors stay active and healthy in a fun and engaging environment. We offer a wide variety of services and activities including arts and crafts, games, entertainment, and personal care services. Prevent senior loneliness and keep your loved one busy and active in our senior life center today!