When you think of your parent’s well-being you often think of physical
health and safety. One of the larger challenges many older adults encounter is
loneliness in the form of social isolation. As we age, it may become difficult
to stay social. Factors like the loss of loved ones and friends, mobility and
overall health often impact how social older adults can be and create social
If you notice your parent or loved one could benefit from being social,
you should encourage it. According to research by the Center for Advancing
Health, older adults “who are socially active and maintain or increase
interactions with others as they age have a slower progression of health
declines than” those less socially engaged.
Encouraging your parents or loved one’s social well being can be simple
if you give loving support. Here’s 5 tips to get you started:
Create and maintain social
connections with social media.
Did you know Facebook and Twitter are very popular amongst older
adults? Social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter are extremely popular
among seniors, because they provide an outlet for ideas, opinions, and
creativity. The ease of creating a profile helps you connect or reconnect with
family and friends old or new almost instantaneously. The important thing to support your loved one
with is using social networking safely as they enjoy a new modern connection
with those they love and care for.
Get involved in the community
through volunteer work.
Older adults have a wealth of wisdom, purpose, kindness and advice to
share with the world. Volunteering is a great way to have an impact on the
world and overcome loneliness while being socially active. Connect volunteer
work to something your loved one is passionate about and use existing social
connections they may have been or are currently involved in. Often churches,
soup kitchens, hospitals or nursing homes are great places to start. If your
parent has a love for animals, find out if the local animal shelter has a need
Learn or improve a new skill
There’s something exciting about learning new skills. In learning new
things, we learn about ourselves and are able to achieve new goals. The idea of
“lifetime learning” becomes more and more popular as the population of older
adults increases. If your parent or loved one has always enjoyed fashion or
art, encourage them to learn how to sew or paint by joining a class at a local
community or senior activity center. Lifetime learning can help older adults
maintain a positive self-perception and combat depression.
Plan to spend time with family
If your loved one lives near other family members or friends, encourage
them to spend time together. When you have the ability to nurture existing
relationships with friends and family members that you appreciate, it can
strengthen the bond you have and create new memories. Staying in touch with
these important people may not always be in person, but when it is simple
activities like sharing a meal or family traditions can provide opportunities
for social activity, positive interaction, encouragement and support.
Motivate movement and outdoor
activities to stay physically healthy.
Enjoying the beauty of nature is not only great for your health and
wellness, it’s also a perfect way to stay active socially. Simple things like
talking a walk in the park or attending outdoor events are just as effective as
activities like golf, tennis, swimming, or fishing with friends or family
members. Any of these ideas gives the
opportunity to spend time with friends and meet new people at the same time. Be
sure your parent or loved one is dressed for the weather and protects their
skin from harsh elements in the summer heat or deep winter cold.
Consider moving to a senior
If your parent or loved one is considering a move to a senior community,
one major benefit will be the social connections within the community.
Traditional communities usually have neighbors occupied with raising children, working
daily, and the basics of daily life. Communities that cater to older adults
differ in a way that opens you parent or loved one to opportunities to make new
friends that are living within easy walking distance. Additionally, there is
convenient access to support, events, and outings that cater to seniors specific
and unique needs while fostering social interaction. Companies like Caring
Transitions can help ease the stress of late like moves similar to this.
Loneliness and isolation can be overcome by seniors. If you have a
senior parent or loved one that could benefit from social interaction, encourage
them simply for their social well-being and the impacts creating and
maintaining healthy relationships can have on their physical health.