March 22, 2015
10 easy ways to combat senior isolation
Depending where you live, the late winter months can be frigid, dreary, and seemingly endless. The snow is not quite as white and sparkling as when it was freshly fallen in December. It’s rare to see the sun peeking out through the gray abyss of a sky. The sound of birds singing and children running around outside seem like distant memories – it’s just quiet, frozen, and gray.
For many senior citizens, inability or uneasiness about going outdoors in the cold and snow constricts them to their home, magnifying the lackluster feel of the season. Additionally, at this stage of life, they are likely living alone or with just one other person, often lacking the simplest day-to-day chatter.
Socialization is an impactful factor that can turn that desolation into delight.
Believe it or not, even a small amount of socialization during the golden years, such as heading to a social coffee hour, can multiply quality of life in a big way. A 2011 Gallup poll reported, “The more time Americans spend socially with family and friends, the more likely they are to report enjoyment and happiness in their lives without a lot of stress and worry. Overall, Americans’ self-reported mood improves with each hour of social time they spend in a day, up to about seven hours. Though the relationship is present among all age groups, Americans aged 65 and older are more likely than their younger counterparts to maintain a positive mood with fewer hours of social time.”
Additionally, a Cornell study published in Psychology and Aging even suggests that feelings of loneliness even cause reactions in your body that speed the aging process.
So where does a senior begin to combat the lonely hearts club?
Here are 10 easy possibilities:
- Check with neighbors to see if they’re up for a weekly coffee clutch or book club
Read: 10 Tips on Starting and Running a Book Club
- Make a social phone call
Try: 101 conversation starters
Try: Idealist, Volunteer Match, or All For Good
- Work a few hours per week
Read: 8 Great Part-Time Jobs for Retirees
- Head to the library, the neighborhood café, or the museum and strike up conversation
Try: Finding a place by searching the type + your zip code on Google
- Inquire about options for involvement with your local senior or community center
Try: Oconomowoc Community Center
- Take a community education class
Try: WCTC Personal Enrichment Courses
- Join a league
Try: Tennis, golf, bowling, or archery + your zip code using Google
- Ask a nearby senior community about programs that are open to community members
Try: Three Pillars Senior Living Communities
Or better yet, if you or a loved one are craving that human interaction and some of the above mentioned options seem daunting, maybe it’s the perfect time to:
- Consider a move to a senior living community, where the option for socialization is built right into your living environment.
Try: Scheduling a tour
Most senior communities have a vast calendar of social offerings on any given day (because they know the importance of socialization for seniors!). The beauty of all these options is that participation is not required in all or even any, but simply being surrounded by a warm community of people lifts spirits, restores confidence, and puts a little spring in steps.
So go on, get social! We encourage you or your beloved senior to proactively seek out social opportunities to enhance quality of life.
What have you or a loved one found to be the most enjoyable way to socialize? Let us know by leaving a reply below.