Mental health plays a significant role in our overall health. To be the healthiest version of ourselves, we need to consider mental health as well as physical. When it comes to the health of older adults, physical health often becomes more important, while mental health can often be overlooked. However, the two are intertwined.
Research shows that social isolation and loneliness affect both mental and physical health. A study done by Brigham Young University suggests that loneliness poses as much of a threat to physical health as smoking or obesity. Loneliness and isolation are also linked to illnesses, depression, and higher mortality rates.
This research underscores the importance of mental health for senior's longevity and quality of life. Fortunately, there are many excellent ways to stay social, avoid isolation, and combat loneliness.
5 Tips to Help Seniors Combat Isolation and Loneliness
Pets can help older adults enjoy life, feel loved, and reduce stress. They also help provide seniors with a sense of purpose and stick to a routine. Bringing home a furry friend can also help create a sense of responsibility and control, feelings that many older adults say they struggle with as they age.
Pets have physical health benefits as well. People who own pets are more likely to be physically active, have a better diet and blood sugar levels, along with countless other benefits.
#2: Social Clubs
Whether it’s a bible study or a book club, social groups help prevent loneliness and social isolation in seniors. Seniors who join social clubs are not only able to meet new friends but also partake in a shared interest or hobby. Clubs also offer the opportunity to introduce more structure into the week and give seniors something to look forward to.
#3: Adaptive Technology
Seniors who have health or mobility problems say that’s the primary cause of social isolation. When older adults aren’t able to get around without assistance and have to rely on a family member or caretaker, they often feel lonely or stuck. This physical limitation can make it difficult to fully engage in social activities, even if there are plenty of opportunities to combat isolation. Adaptive technology is any service, tool, or device that helps seniors get around. These tools include walkers, motor scooters, hearing aids, and more.
If you are concerned about a loved one’s loneliness or you yourself are feeling isolated, try therapy. Therapy offers many benefits including a neutral shoulder to lean on, an outlet, resources from a trained professional, and so much more. Furthermore, if loneliness turns into depression, counseling has the tools to help one cope and feel like their normal self.
Older adults who live alone often experience loneliness or feelings of isolation because they’re not interacting with others regularly. For those older adults who have retired or haven’t joined a social club, the days can seem long and empty at times. While there’s a lot of freedom that comes with growing older, there’s also more time to fill a day when the day was once busy. Scheduling visitors or inviting loved ones over can help fill those days and combat feelings of loneliness. Whether it’s neighbors, friends, or family members, having a visitor can give the day a purpose and provide something to look forward to.
Finally, if you or a loved one you know is living alone and struggling with social isolation, consider a senior living community. Being surrounded by neighbors, friends, caretakers, and activities is a great way to provide plenty of social interaction and combat loneliness. From restaurant-style dining to weekly happy hours, senior living communities can offer exactly what an older adult needs. Contact us to learn more.