Loneliness has become a common hardship for seniors who live alone or who do not have the ability to leave their homes on a regular basis. With an increasing number of seniors living alone, isolation has become a growing concern for caregivers and loved ones. Social isolation can be dangerous for seniors, negatively impacting their mental and physical health, according to a Place for Mom. However, loneliness can be diminished, allowing seniors to live a more fulfilling and happy life.
Here are 5 ways to help your elderly loved one avoid feeling lonely.
- Schedule regular visits with family or friends.
If an elder loved one lives alone, creating a schedule for regular visits with family members or friends can help the elder avoid feelings of isolation and loneliness. Regular visits will allow your elderly loved one to develop his or her own daily schedule, while looking forward to your next visit. Places of worship often have a list of volunteers who are happy to pop in to see parishioners. Too often there is no family and only one or two friends, who can themselves be in need.
- Make transportation easily available.
Once seniors are no long able to drive, their options for social interaction decrease and they become reliant on other people. This loss of independence can make some seniors feel helpless. You can help minimize these negative feelings by providing easy and accessible transportation for your loved one. If you are unable to drive your loved one, consider other forms of transportation, including community transportation services for seniors, like Bucks County Transport, which includes the DART bus in Doylestown and is ADA accessible, 215 794 5554. Their website is www.bctransport.org.
- Give the elder a pet or small garden.
Pets offer endless joy and love. If you think a pet may help ease feelings of loneliness, discuss it with your loved one. Plants also promote happiness and joy. If your loved one is not able to care for a pet, consider helping him or her create a small indoor or outdoor garden to care for. Bird feeders, either on a pole closeby or attached to a window, provide much pleasure for a shut-in. Just make sure there is someone to refill the feeder!
- Find activity groups or clubs.
Consistent socialization can relieve feelings of isolation for seniors who live alone. Find clubs or activity groups that meet regularly and encourage your loved one to participate. If possible, offer to drive your elderly loved one to the meetings or arrange for transportation.
- Get help from a professional caregiver.
If your elderly loved one is not able to leave his or her home, consider seeking the help of a professional caregiver. A caregiver can assistseniors with daily tasks and also offer additional social interaction. If you are your loved one’s primary caregiver or geriatric care manager, additional help will give you a much needed break, and provide your loved one with a caring friend to talk to and confide in.
Helping seniors confront their loneliness can be challenging. Taking these simple steps to make your elderly loved ones feel less lonely will help promote their mental, physical and emotional health.
The Bucks County Area Agency on Aging, 30 E. Oakland Avenue Doylestown PA 18901, has a great deal of information on many different topics concerning seniors. Visit their website at http://www.buckscounty.org/government/HumanServices/AAA or stop in for information.