Seniors are at increased risk for social isolation and loneliness because they're more likely to experience factors such as the loss of family members or friends, living alone, hearing loss, and chronic illness. Loneliness is the feeling of being perpetually alone, whether the person affected has had any amount of social contact or not.
According to recent studies, loneliness can be as lethal as obesity or smoking. It can complicate existing medical conditions, affect a person's cognition, and encourage an unhealthy lifestyle — not to mention how damaging it can be to people's emotional and mental well-being. Living alone without social interaction can drastically affect a person’s sense of self-worth, particularly if they’re ageing and vulnerable to illness.
Do you have someone in your life who’s facing isolating challenges as a senior? Check out how you can help them feel engaged and appreciated with these tips.
Encourage Them to Start a New Hobby
Starting a new hobby can give your loved one something to look forward to — whether it’s crochet, cooking, or a drawing and painting class. Having something to do can break the monotony of the everyday routine, provide a sense of purpose in a senior's life, and encourage better mental health and cognitive behaviour. Discovering new skills stimulates neurons in the brain and creates neural pathways to travel quickly, helping the brain retain and absorb information.
Consider looking into adult education classes at your local college or high school. If you live close to or in a major city such as Toronto, you'll find heaps of exciting courses for seniors. Or, look into an online course that your friend or family member could take in the comfort of home.
Work With a Personal Support Worker
Sometimes, all it takes to cure a seemingly endless case of loneliness is a little bit of companionship. Find a healthcare agency that offers senior home care in Toronto or wherever your friend or family member calls home, and ask about their personal support services. A trained, professional Personal Support Worker (PSW) can visit your loved one at home, helping them feel less alone. A PSW will also do the following for your friend or family member:
- Assist with cleaning around the house.
- Meal preparation.
- Prescription medication management.
- Assisting with bathing and toileting.
- Attend to medical needs.
- And so much more.
Find a healthcare agency that's been around for years so you'll know that you can trust them to provide excellent, compassionate at-home senior services.
Get a Pet
If your loved one is capable of taking care of a dog or cat at home, why not brighten their day with a little furry friend? Pets can help people fight loneliness because they offer companionship. Owning a pet also requires a little bit of maintenance — such as walking and grooming — so it will give your loved one something meaningful to do.
Living alone has its benefits — there’s no need to cater to anyone else’s needs — but it can feel incredibly lonely and isolating. The next time you’re with your senior loved one who lives by themselves, ask if they’d consider any one of these options.
By doing so, you could bring a world of joy to their life and open it up to new, exciting opportunities.