Isolation at any age can be detrimental to emotional health, but studies suggest that the effects of loneliness can be much more far-reaching. Dr. John Cacioppo of the University of Chicago Neurosciences program ran a 30-year study on the effects of isolation in seniors and his discoveries were startling. Loneliness affects mental health as well as emotional well-being and has proven to be a risk factor for cognitive decline, long-term illness and a shortened lifespan.
That’s the bad news.
The good news is that there are many ways to help isolated seniors socialize and have more human contact. A few simple solutions can reverse loneliness, improve long-term health, and create a happier tomorrow for you or your loved one.
1. Get Out and About With Available Transportation
It can be difficult to find convenient transportation, especially in small towns. In fact, 41% of seniors feel that transportation options in their area are inadequate to meet their needs. However, utilizing transportation when and where it is available can help you make great strides in feeling less isolated.
Even a quick cab ride to a park only minutes from your home can make a big difference. Take the time to learn or discuss with a loved one the public transportation routes in the area so you are familiar with them when you need them.
Contact your local government agency to discover transportation options for the elderly in your area. Many churches and other charitable organizations are also willing to help if you only ask. If these options do not appeal to you, consider asking family and friends to take turns helping you get from A to B. While it may be hard to ask, most people are more than happy to help.
2. Volunteer and Make a Difference
Seniors have a deep reservoir of life experience and talents which has the potential to make them incredibly valuable as caring volunteers. Not only does giving back help others, but it can help seniors too. Volunteering helps you create a growing social circle while improving your own mental health and well-being. It’s a win-win for everyone!
3. Get Moving With Exercise
Exercise is known to increase feel-good hormones and decrease anxiety. In fact, even 5 minutes of walking has been shown to decrease stress. The good news is, the longer you move the more benefits you will receive. From stretching to even seated movements, there are exercises for every fitness and mobility level that can be beneficial to your health—both physical and emotional. It’s even better when you get out to a class adding an important element of socialization to the mix.
4. Enroll in a Class of Any Kind
Studies reveal a surprising truth: one of the most effective ways to combat loneliness—at any age—is to join a class and improve education. Classes not only help you to interact with the world around you, but they also serve as a great way to improve cognitive function. Striving to learn something new every day keeps your mind active and you young and healthy. Even a class on a hobby like art or bridge or writing can keep you active and in touch with people of similar interests.
5. Consider Home Care
Home care agencies are much more than just helping hands. They also serve as a support system and window to the world for seniors and their loved ones. Isolation is becoming increasingly prevalent in today’s digital world. If a senior is isolated from the world, chances are their friend or family member who provides their care may be isolated too. A senior care expert can free up time for both seniors and those they love to make time for relaxing, getting out, or doing something fun for awhile.
Loneliness is never permanent if we care enough to shed light on it. The solution doesn’t have to be difficult or require large amounts of effort. Efforts, even small, can make a huge difference and create a better, brighter, and happier future ahead.
Establishing the care needed and finding the right agency to supply quality assistance are two important steps to ensuring there is a high level of care administered in your absence. At David York Agency, we offer a number of home healthcare services. From home health aides to RN’s and LPNs, DYA will provide the level of home healthcare your loved one needs.
For more information about our qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us at 718.376.7755. A free phone consultation can help you decide what services might be best to provide you and your loved one with the assistance you need.