When you think of caring for aging parents, most people believe it includes caring for physical needs like food, medical care, or mobility related issues. Although the physical aspect of care is extremely important, social well-being has equal importance.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, one in every three seniors live and age alone. Among seniors who live alone senior loneliness can be common, especially during a pandemic where social interaction is limited. Loneliness can impact both physical and mental well-being.
The best way to help your parents or loved ones overcome senior loneliness is helping them stay social. Here are a few safe and creative ways to care for their social well-being:
Send a Letter
There’s something special about receiving a letter from a loved one assuring them they are thought of and valued. Letter’s may even be nostalgic and trigger memories, which can be helpful for memory impaired older adults. Adding a weekly letter to your communication routine could be the extra touch that shows someone they’re loved.
Have a Virtual Outing
Think of the places you enjoyed visiting with your parents or loved ones and approach them in a new way! Many museums, art galleries and even zoos are offering virtual tours. You can schedule a virtual outing by coordinating with your loved one or their care team. Make it as exciting as you would if you were doing this adventure with them in person.
Help Them Use Social Media
Social media has no age limit and is a great way to create and maintain social connections. 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.
Share Skills Virtually
There’s something exciting about learning or teaching someone a new skill. In learning new things, we learn about ourselves and can 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 teach you how, or learn how to sew or paint virtually. Lifetime sharing and learning can help older adults maintain a positive self-perception and combat depression.
Call via Phone and Video
Both traditional phone calls and video calls are excellent ways to keep in touch with a loved one while face-to-face visits are restricted, especially if you’re a long-distance caregiver. Phone and video calls can combat loneliness when familiar or loving voices are heard. Video calls are excellent for making everyday moments special like enjoying a meal together or reading a book with the grandchildren in addition to sharing milestone moments like birthdays, anniversaries, engagements or births. Remember to choose a video call app or device that is simple to use for both you and your loved one.
Encouraging your parents and loved ones to stay social benefits both their mental and physical well-being. Social well-being has been connected to reduced risk for:
- Cardiovascular issues
- Alzheimer's disease
- High blood pressure
- Mental health issues
- Decreased brain health
As we navigate a new normal during a unique time, there are more resources available daily to help families stay close even while social distancing. The significance of strong social and family ties can ease feelings of social isolation and give a strong boost to social wellness.
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 to start creating and maintaining healthy relationships.
In some cases, social well-being may mean moving closer to friends and family, or to a senior living community. If you are considering organizing a move for your parents or loved one, we can help! Learn how we can simplify a late life move!