Loneliness and social isolation for seniors can be serious problems that can lead to further health complications down the road.
While the initial stages of the pandemic are behind us, a tougher fall and winter could lead to further problems for the older population. Continued loneliness or isolation over long periods of time could put them at risk for dementia, or other serious health concerns, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Some of the other effects of loneliness and social isolation for seniors include:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Substance use
- Cognitive decline
- Premature death
When 1 in 2 adults over the age of 60 are at risk of social isolation, it’s time to take note of the problem.
Mitigating Social Isolation for Seniors: Some Ways to Address the Problem
There are some things that adult children and seniors can work on in order to improve social skills and reduce loneliness.
Increase Visitors – It seems pretty straightforward: seniors who are at risk for social isolation and loneliness benefit from having more social interactions. More visits from friends and family, or more social events counteract the negative feelings of loneliness.
Volunteer – Seniors who become more involved in their community may develop a stronger sense of purpose, which can help fight loneliness.
Use Technology for Social Interactions – Phone calls and video calls help. They aren’t a good long-term substitution for in-person interactions, but they can bring people together over distances who may not otherwise see each other very much.
Work on Unhelpful Thought Patterns – Some seniors who experience social isolation may generate thought patterns that become unhelpful when around others. They may become quick to judge, or too easily down on themselves, for example. It may help to address this through therapy, meditation, or other means.
Develop Hobbies that Involve Other People – Seniors often have a considerable amount of downtime. It may help to find hobbies or activities that involve being around other people such as exercise groups, a choir, or a support group.
Fighting Social Isolation for Seniors
Loneliness is a serious problem but there are solutions that can help. If you notice this problem in a loved one, it’s best to work with them to find ways for them to be around other people.