According to a study published in The Journal of Primary Prevention, social isolation can have a big impact on health in seniors. Isolation increases the risk of falling, developing a dementia-related condition, and being readmitted to the hospital. If you’re caring for an older loved one who isn’t as social as he or she once was, be proactive about helping him or her reduce isolation. Here are some steps you can take to achieve this goal.
Schedule a Physical Exam
Some seniors become isolated if they’re living with issues like urinary incontinence (UI) or digestive problems. If you suspect this may be the case, schedule a physical exam for your loved one. Also, encourage your loved one to discuss anything that may be bothering him or her physically, and remind your parent that addressing such matters means he or she will likely benefit from treatment.
Have Hearing & Vision Checked
Isolation in aging adults sometimes happens because of undiagnosed hearing or vision problems. For instance, annual vision exams can check for cataracts and macular degeneration, which are two common eye-related problems in seniors that tend to be progressive. Age-related hearing loss can also worsen gradually over time.
Promote a Positive Body Image
Aging adults sometimes withdraw socially if they’re self-conscious about their bodies or appearance. Seemingly minor things—such as offering honest compliments to your loved one about how he or she looks—could have a big impact on how comfortable he or she is when interacting with others.
Encourage Group Meals
Eating in groups is a great way for seniors to be more involved with others. Plan weekly brunches or dinners involving other family members and friends. Another option is to plan regular “cooking parties” where people are invited to your loved one’s home to prepare meals everyone will enjoy together.
A home caregiver can be a wonderful source of support for a senior who’s at risk for isolation. Seniors can face a variety of challenges as they age, many of which can be mitigated with the help of professional in-home caregivers who provide high-quality elderly care. Dallas families trust Home Care Assistance to help their elderly loved ones age in place safely and comfortably.
Provide Something to Take Care Of
Taking care of something that requires regular attention can create a sense of purpose. Your loved one can care for a pet or even a garden. If pet ownership isn’t right for your loved one, pet therapy can have similar benefits. As for gardening, one possibility is to create a community garden that gives your loved one a chance to mingle with friends and neighbors.
Look for Signs of Depression
The National Council on Aging estimates nearly 7 million adults 65 and older experience depression. If your loved one is chronically depressed, he or she may become increasingly isolated. Signs of depression in seniors include:
- A loss of interest in previously enjoyable activities
- Increased fatigue and a general lack of energy
- Unexplained weight changes
If you spot any of these signs, encourage your loved one to talk to his or her doctor. Depression is often manageable with medication and therapy.
Take Advantage of Senior Services
Isolation may become an issue for seniors because of a lack of resources. If this is the case for your loved one, suggest taking advantage of senior transportation services to get around when you’re not available. In-home caregivers also provide transportation along with companionship and other forms of assistance that can reduce isolation.
For families living in Dallas, respite care can be a wonderful solution when their aging loved ones need companionship and socialization a few hours a week or just need minor assistance with daily household tasks. At Home Care Assistance, we thrive on helping seniors maintain their independence while living in the comfort of home.
If your loved one has dementia or another condition that limits the ability to communicate and interact, there are still ways you can help him or her feel less isolated. Holding your loved one’s hand or gently touching his or her face may make him or her feel loved and connected to you.
Social isolation can result in mental, emotional, and physical challenges, but seniors don’t have to handle them alone. In Dallas, at-home care agencies can be a great boon to seniors. With the help of the caregivers at Home Care Assistance, your aging loved one can lead a happier and healthier life. We offer a revolutionary program called the Balanced Care Method, which encourages seniors to eat nutritious foods, exercise and socialize regularly, and focus on other lifestyle factors that increase life expectancy. To learn more about our reliable, compassionate in-home care services, contact us at (214) 363-3400 today.