By Linda Williams
Between chronic health conditions, cognitive decline, and immobility, aging seniors face numerous physical and mental complications that affect their overall wellbeing. However, an often forgotten piece of elder wellness is emotional health, which can also deteriorate as people age. Unfortunately, older communities face higher rates of depression and anxiety, which often stem from isolation and lack of care.
Thankfully, there are ways to combat loneliness and declining mental health in senior communities, like scheduling consistent quality time and encouraging them to join local groups. [However, one of the most common problems that hinders seniors to socialize is untreated hearing loss. According to Blue Angels Hearing, making sure that hearing loss is treated as soon as possible is vitally important.] If you’re worried your senior loved one may be experiencing isolation, read on for five ways to foster social involvement in your elder’s community.
One way to help seniors in your life stay connected with loved ones is by equipping them with technology that allows for online socialization. Although in-person interactions are powerful, sometimes mobility issues, accessibility, and distance restrict senior’s from going out and mingling. Thankfully, digital avenues allow elderly folk to connect with friends and family through online video calling. By investing in smartphones or computers for seniors, you enable your loved one to socialize virtually from anywhere in the world.
Once you’ve introduced internet-equipped tech into your senior loved one’s daily life, consider taking it a step further by setting up social media accounts where they can connect with friends—new and old. Social sites foster a sense of community and allow people to keep up with distant acquaintances, post updates about their life, and join online groups of like-minded individuals.
One reason some elderly folks don’t travel outside of their homes often is due to navigation concerns. Driving can be dangerous for seniors with visual or mobility impairments, leaving many feeling isolated from their community. However, you can improve your loved ones’ social involvement by offering to transport them from point A to B. That way, they can stay connected with friends and family without worrying about the commute.
One way to help your loved ones stay active in their community is by encouraging them to join a club. There are limitless groups for seniors to attend, ranging from book clubs, bowling leagues, cooking classes, and gardening workshops that allow older individuals to connect with like-minded people around them. If you’re unsure where to begin your search, call up their local senior center and ask about potential opportunities.
An excellent way to keep loneliness at bay is by volunteering at a local shelter or food bank. However, it can be intimidating for nervous seniors to participate alone, which is why you should consider tagging along. Accompanying your elder allows them to increase their social involvement without being alone or out of their element. Additionally, you build a stronger relationship with your loved ones while getting involved in your community.
Fostering social involvement in elderly communities is essential to keep feelings of loneliness and isolation at bay. By equipping your loved ones with senior-friendly tech, chaperoning their ventures, and encouraging community involvement, you can sleep easy knowing they’ve formed meaningful connections in their day-to-day life.
Linda Williams is a University of Illinois at Chicago alumnus who has nurtured a successful career as a legal secretary over the last 20+ years, supporting some of the most esteemed attorneys in Chicago. When she's not writing legal documents at lightning speeds or developing her personal writing portfolio, she enjoys spending time with her beautiful children -- especially her new granddaughter! According to Williams, "nothing sparks joy quite like quality time with family, a good book, and opportunities to find your creative voice."
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