The holidays are long gone and people are starting to settle into the busyness a new year brings. For many, this means new year’s resolutions routines, deadlines for wrapping up 2015 business and planning the year ahead. While these things are necessary, they often come at the expense of putting things on the back-burner.
Visiting elderly loved ones is unfortunately one of those things that often gets put on the back-burner in the dead of winter and bustle of the new year. The lack of company coupled with being stuck indoors due to poor weather increases your loved one’s risk of experiencing social isolation and a poor quality of life.
In fact, studies have found that as many as 43% of seniors who live in senior communities suffer from social isolation, and this number increases for seniors who live on their own. Not only is senior isolation dangerous and lonely, it also exponentially increases your loved one’s risk of experiencing additional health issues including increased risk for all-cause mortality, hospitalization and falls.
This week we continue our series regarding the perils of winter for our elderly loved ones by exploring senior social isolation and how to prevent it.
What Is Social Isolation?
It is important to not that social isolation is neither a physical or mental disease. According to AARP, people are a social species and the urge for social interaction is a basic survival instinct. While, social isolation is not a disease, as we mentioned earlier, it can and will lead to detrimental health issues including depression, increased fall risk and potentially death.
Fortunately, even with busy schedules, with planning, organization and prioritization, social isolation can be easily combatted. The following are several ways you can help prevent your elderly loved one from experiencing social isolation this winter and beyond.
- First and foremost, it is important to make transportation easily acceptable, whether you drive them or provide a shuttle/taxi service or utilize public transportation. If they do use public transportation, make sure they know how the system works and which stops they need to take. Always have a back up plan.
- Encourage your elderly loved one to have at least one weekly standing day out with friends. Senior centers and churches usually have weekly gatherings and events which give your loved one something to do and people to spend time with.
- If your elderly loved one can handle a pet, then invest in a furry companion for them to spend time with. Having something to take care of can help minimize the effects of social isolation. If your elderly loved one is not a pet person, then invest in a plant for them to take care of.
- Plan a weekly meal date so that your elderly loved one doesn’t have to dine alone. Dining alone is dangerous and lonely.
- If they live alone, speak with their neighbors and ask if they can keep an eye on them and maybe drop in to give them company if at all possible.
- Invest in a companion caregiver.
Wiser Home Care Services’ Companion care caregivers provide the interaction seniors need to help make them feel connected. Wiser Home Care Services has wonderful companion care caregivers that are there for conversation, able to take seniors to social outings, run errands, and participate in activities as well as do light house duties. Companion care can provide the support needed for seniors to live safely at home.
Our standard companionship services include:
- General transportation needs
- Monitoring diet and meal planning, cooking, clean up
- Preparing grocery lists
- Grocery shopping
- Checking for food expirations
- Scheduling foot care appointments
- Light housekeeping
- Travel companion
- Pet and plant care and house sitting
- Ordering medications and pick-up
- Communicating with all professionals involved in your care
- Dry cleaning and laundry: pick-up and delivery
- Special projects
- Booking medical appointments, date reminders, and transportation
If you care for an elderly loved one and would like help developing a care plan to help prevent your elderly loved one from experiencing social isolation please feel free to contact us. We can help your family establish a care plan to personally accommodate your loved one’s needs.