Identifying Senior Loneliness and Social Isolation: How to Help from Afar
As simple as it may seem, the surest way of identifying loneliness in seniors is to check in. It can start with a phone call or text. From there, you can better gauge how your loved one is fairing and the ways they could benefit from other touch points.
While we’re all limited right now in our ability to physically comfort the older adults in our lives, it’s easy to employ many of the same channels and tools we’re using in our own altered work and home lives to remotely combat senior loneliness and social isolation. Below, find a helpful list of ideas and senior loneliness solutions that can inspire moments of meaningful interaction even as we practice social distancing.
Solutions for Senior Loneliness
Keeping in regular contact with your senior loved one can clue you in on any shifts in their mood or daily behavior that could indicate they’re feeling overwhelmed by a sense of loneliness. Get in the habit of reaching out via phone call, text message or email as a basic but effective way to stave off senior loneliness and social isolation.
After establishing a routine of regular check-ins, start thinking of ways to incorporate more out-of-the-box interactions. Send a care package with some of their favorite treats and activities they can enjoy at home. Or set them up with subscription-based services to deliver anything from fresh flowers to coffee and serve as a recurring reminder that they’re in your thoughts. Make them a personalized playlist with a mix of the contemporary music you love and the classics that have always warmed their heart.
Ease the feelings of separation by taking up new activities together. Exchange recipes, cook them on the same day, and share your thoughts on the end result. Tackle the daily crossword and see who can finish first. Crack open the same piece of fiction or nonfiction and create a family book club. Begin binge watching a new TV series at the same time or plan a night to both catch a newly released movie. Invite them to join you for an online workout class and break a simultaneous sweat. Syncing these sorts of endeavors not only creates opportunities for fun, but incorporates a sense of closeness that no amount of social distancing can take away.
Make it a family affair
Combating loneliness in seniors doesn’t have to be the focus of just one person in their lives. In fact, finding ways to show the seniors in your life just how many people care about them can be an incredibly powerful way to reduce the feeling of isolation in seniors. Use a video chat platform to host virtual get-togethers with groups big and small to create online family reunions in an instant. Send your loved one a smart device, like those from Amazon and Google, to help make it easier from them to stay connected to family and friends near and far. Or strip away the need for technology altogether and encourage members of your brood to start writing letters.
Show up but keep your distance
If you’re fortunate enough to be in the same city as your senior loved one, then you may be able to pay them a visit while maintaining a safe amount of separation. If they have a balcony or porch, stop by their residence to have a socially distanced dance party. You could also have grandkids create signs or chalk their sidewalk with special messages. While these may not be a feasible option for everyone, they can prove to be a richly rewarding experience for everyone involved.
At The Stayton, we’re taking every possible precaution to keep our residents safe. On top of a continued focus on physical health, we’re also finding ways to care for residents’ mental well-being. During these unprecedented times, it’s so vitally important to help uplift the people around us, and we hope this list can serve as a springboard for your ongoing efforts to do just that. Stay safe and be well.