Combating Loneliness for Seniors
During the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), “social distancing” has been the norm; for seniors confined to their homes for health reasons, the situation has become a lonely one. Senior centers and adult day services are shuttered. Many of the social opportunities available to older adults and people with disabilities have evaporated.
Health Effects of Loneliness
Research has linked social isolation and loneliness to higher risks for a variety of physical and mental conditions: high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, a weakened immune system, anxiety, depression, cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s disease, and even death.
People who find themselves unexpectedly alone due to the death of a spouse or partner, separation from friends or family, retirement, loss of mobility, and lack of transportation are at particular risk. The pandemic has created the perfect set of circumstances for loneliness to set in.
Conversely, people who engage in meaningful, productive activities with others tend to live longer, boost their mood, and have a sense of purpose. These activities seem to help maintain their well-being and may improve their cognitive function.
How to Combat Loneliness in Seniors
Fighting the loneliness epidemic amongst seniors does not have to be difficult. When both caregivers and family members are committed to engaging in meaningful interactions with seniors, it’s relatively easy to keep loneliness at bay, even during a global pandemic.
- Visit your loved one as often as you can, even if it’s just through the screen door or window to protect from COVID-19. When having a conversation, really listen to what he or she has to say.
- Call or write letters often. If your loved one has a smart device, use video calls to stay in touch daily.
- A great tip is to let your elderly family member teach you something. Older individuals love to pass on their knowledge, so give them an outlet to do so. Sewing, gardening, cooking, all of these activities provide and outlet for creativity. Use technology to help during the pandemic.
In-Home Caregivers Provide an Important Human Connection
During the self-isolating period of the coronavirus pandemic, seniors living at home, too, have had very limited access to their usual social connections.
For many of these seniors, home care has been providing the support they need, and not only in the usual ways you might think, such as assistance with personal care, housekeeping, transportation and meal preparation. Not only now, but in “normal” situations, having a caregiver provides an important sense of human connection. Caregivers also help keep clients connected in the community — though these days, that might consist of assisting with communication technologies.
Let Us Help You
With a trained, professional caregiver on hand to help their loved ones remain safe at home, families gain the peace of mind that allows them to focus on their other tasks, and to maintain their own social connections. Home Care Associates improves the quality of time seniors and families spend, both away from each other and together.
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