1. Make Transportation Available - Because many seniors do not drive, this is a big issue for them, so anything that helps seniors get around and make independent choices about travel promotes their social health.
2. Promote Sense of Purpose
Seniors with a sense of purpose or hobbies that really interest them are less likely to succumb to the negative effects of social isolation. Anything that involves a group, for example, playing bridge, also adds to social interaction. Volunteering is also great way of maintaining and expressing a sense of purpose. Encouraging seniors to remain active in their hobbies and interests, and providing them opportunities to volunteer can help them maintain their sense of purpose and keep them from becoming isolated and lonely.
3. Encourage Religious Seniors to Maintain Attendance at their Places of Worship
For seniors who have been regular churchgoers, this weekly social connection has been shown to be quite beneficial.
4. Give a Senior a Pet or Plant to Take Care Of
Many experts note that the act of nurturing can relieve feelings of social isolation. Pet owners remain engaged socially, have less depression, suffer less loneliness, feel more secure, have more motivation for constructive use of time and require less medication that non-pet owners. It also provides a reason to get up in the morning and is a great conversation starter. Assuming the senior is capable of caring for a pet, nurturing and caring for an animal companion can be quite beneficial. Even tending a garden can satisfy our nurturing drive, so giving a senior a plant or gardening supplies as a gift can be beneficial too.
5. Encourage a Positive Body Image
Many older adults avoid social interaction because of a poor body image. Individuals with a poor body image may decrease or cease interactions with their social networks to the point where they could be at risk for social isolation. networks. Compliments and positive comments can go a long way to boosting the self-esteem of seniors.
6. Encourage Hearing and Vision Tests
Seniors with undiagnosed or untreated hearing problems may avoid social situations because of embarrassment and difficulty communicating. Encourage seniors to have their hearing checked and hearing problems treated. A hearing aid may be the only barrier between a senior and better social health. Vision tests are important too as sight problems limit opportunities for social interactions with others.
7. Notify Neighbors
Because socially isolated seniors may be vulnerable to a variety of unexpected problems and may have underlying issues such as dementia, caregivers should consider informing members of the community that there is a vulnerable adult in the neighborhood. Trusted neighbors within a block radius or so should be introduced to the senior if feasible, informed about any particular issues the senior may have, and asked to keep a friendly eye out in case anything seems amiss.
8. Encourage Dining with Others
The act of eating with others is inherently social. Food is almost always shared; people eat together; mealtimes are events when the whole family or settlement or village comes together. Encourage seniors to share a meal with others whenever possible, whether it’s with a church group, the local senior center, or a friendly café or diner. Dining with others is also likely to help promote better nutrition, which is crucial for the elderly.
9. Address Incontinence Issues
For obvious reasons, a senior who experiences incontinence may be hesitant to leave their home and could become isolated. When health professionals make sure that incontinence issues are appropriately addresses, for example through medications and incontinence supplies, incontinent seniors can have a better opportunity to recognize their social potentials and live life without embarrassment and fear of going into public.
10. Give a Hug
There’s nothing like a hug from grandma. And research has shown that friendly platonic touching from friends and family, like hand holding or hugging, can lower stress and promote feelings of well-being. On the other hand, people deprived of touch can experience decreased well-being. So weave a friendly hug into your greetings and farewells.