Loneliness isn’t just an unfortunate feeling many senior citizens experiences, it can also put their health at serious risk. According to a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, both social isolation and loneliness are associated with a higher risk of mortality for those ages 52 and older. In addition, the National Social Life, Health and Aging Project also found that isolated and lonely seniors are typically in poorer health physically and mentally than their less lonely counterparts.
Despite the sobering reality, there are plenty of ways to help your loved ones overcome loneliness and get back on the path toward optimal health and happiness. Here’s how to get started:
Create Peace of Mind
Keeping senior citizens who live alone safe is a pervasive worry for many caretakers. It’s also an issue of independence and peace of mind. A medical alert system can provide peace of mind that there is always someone nearby to help. Medical alert devices are also ideal for seniors who are fiercely independent and find a 24/7 care provider a blow to their self-esteem.
Talk to your loved one about getting set up with a device like Lively Mobile to keep them within reach of help if they get lost or fall. The device can also help seniors stay connected with loved ones, track their activity and steps, and give them enough peace of mind to get out and stay active without worrying about their safety.
Loneliness expands beyond being alone and is also about feeling disconnected and forgotten. Loved ones who live across the globe can still stay hyper-connected with their loved ones through digital apps and tools. Get your favorite senior set up with Skype, Facebook or Google Hangouts to share pictures and videos and get updates on their family and friends.
Getting more senior citizens online and staying connected to friends and family can also help combat their loneliness. According to the Social Isolation and Loneliness Report, 70 percent of those surveyed said social media makes them feel less lonely. The report also found simply being online to use email and look for information can also help reduce loneliness.
Encourage Seniors to Give Back
Volunteering is a rewarding way to give back to your community while helping combat loneliness at the same time. But before your elderly loved one says they don’t have the time or stamina to volunteer, arm yourself with some intriguing research. According to research collected from Reuters, volunteering for just two hours a week can help reduce loneliness and improve outlook.
Encourage the senior citizens in your life to volunteer for their favorite cause. Get inspired by browsing the local paper in their community. Volunteering at an after-school center, local library or animal shelter are just a few places to start.
Help Seniors Find a New Hobby
Whether the elderly seniors in your life are active or are trying to navigate physical restrictions, they can still embrace a new hobby to keep them busy and inspire their mind, body and spirit. Help them explore a fun outlet that suits their needs and lifestyles. Dancing, novel writing, photography or even graphic design can help them put their passions and talents to use whether from their own home or in their community.
Being alone doesn’t have to mean your beloved seniors are lonely. The key is giving them the support and resources they need to embrace this new season in their life and make the most of it.