Seniors who are socially integrated and actively participate in society tend to live healthier more productive lives. However, an increasing number of seniors in Toronto and elsewhere may be at risk for social isolation and loneliness. Many different factors may contribute to this trend including retirement, lack of companionship due to the loss of family members or friends, an increased likelihood to live alone, and poor health. Although studies show that social isolation has been linked to poor health outcomes, it remains alarmingly common.
As people age, there is an increased tendency to rely on others for assistance with daily tasks. This is not uncommon, but the thought of relying heavily on others may be overwhelming for a once independent individual. The avoidance of becoming a “burden” to others however, can lead to social isolation. Feelings of fear and frustration can also sink in when there is a perceived threat of loss of independence.
Promoting social interactions among our older loved ones is important. Here are a few ways to promote social health and engagement.
Senior Companions Can Assist With Transportation
Many seniors require a mode of transportation to get out and run errands, visit friends, or attend social gatherings. This could mean that a family member or caregiver needs to pick them up and take them out, or aid in investing in a mobility device such as a scooter. There are many options available when it comes to devices for mobility assistance; it is just a matter of finding what is right for the situation. A companion care agency in Toronto or the senior’s local area can help to escort a senior on outings when a family caregiver is not available.
Offer Friendly Companionship by Visiting Often
Visits from family and friends can mean the world to a senior citizen who lives alone. Quality time allows the senior to feel loved, wanted, and appreciated, and will keep them occupied. A visit is a visit, even if it is a short weeknight visit that only lasts 20 or 30 minutes. Chances are, it will be the highlight of their day. If you notice that a senior is isolating himself or herself more frequently, try to arrange more visits—increased social isolation could be an indication that your loved one has slipped into depression. Seek out medical advice and intervention if you suspect depression.
Many seniors have had religious ties as part of their upbringing, and often times they will return to their religion in their old age because they have more time to dedicate. When a senior is slipping into isolation, encourage them to revisit their faith and practice again. There is a sense of purpose that comes with worshiping, and this can rejuvenate their spirit and pull them from isolation.
This can be done by fostering and growing friendships. Your loved one should be encouraged to participate in activities that their community offers, and they may even meet new friends at these activities. A friend that is similar in age will provide a way for them to confide in someone who will likely be able to relate. Daily physical activity can also provide a boost in confidence by furnishing a rush of endorphins, as well as promote more physical endurance, flexibility and mobility.
Make a Senior’s Home Special
A senior’s home should be a place that makes them happy, so ensure that they are surrounded by pictures of friends and family along with plants and other memorabilia that they love. This may encourage them to invite friends over, fostering friendships and encouraging conversation. A pet such as a dog or cat can also be a friendly companion that will help to limit feelings of loneliness and isolation.
Whether a Toronto senior is ageing at home or in an assisted living facility, it is vital to their health and well-being that they do not creep into isolation. There are ways to prevent this from happening such as by providing senior companionship, encouraging outings, boosting confidence, and promoting as much independence as possible.