Helping Seniors Overcome Isolation
A serious challenge affecting many seniors is overcoming isolation.
After retirement, with children grown and often living and working in other areas, and sometimes due to health issues, it is easy for seniors to become lonely and isolated. Many times, seniors loose support and social interaction with friends and neighbors due to illness, death, and relocation.
It is important for seniors to find ways to stay as active as possible and maintain social interaction to avoid depression that can come from loneliness and isolation. Fortunately, there are many ways for seniors to stay engaged and enjoy the positive benefits of staying connected and engaged with their communities and friends.
A wonderful way for seniors to stay engaged is with technology. Specifically, a smart phone can connect seniors with friends and family using Apps such as Facebook and Instagram. Many providers offer a senior discount, and the social media applications are free. The Pew Research Center reports that, “For vast majority of seniors who own one, a smartphone equals ‘freedom.’” (http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/04/29/seniors-smartphones/)
Local Community groups, churches, lunches, and senior centers, can provide much-needed opportunities for social engagement. For example, The Shepherd’s Center, “a learning, activity, service, support and socializing center for Clay County seniors who are 55 and up,” offers many educational, social, and recreational activities to seniors. (https://www.tscoop.org/)
Make sure that the senior in your life is getting regular hearing and vision checks. Poor vision or hearing can contribute to social isolation and an appearance of not being engaged in social settings. Regular checkups and the use of suggested glasses or hearing aids from health care providers can make a huge difference.
Safe transportation is a huge concern for many seniors. A great resource for transportation information is The Florida Senior Safety Resource Center, “developed by the University of Florida Institute for Mobility, Activity and Participation, is designed to provide information and resources on alternative forms of transportation, driving knowledge and skills, and links to national organizations that address transportation issues.” (http://fssrc.phhp.ufl.edu/)
Developing hobbies such as drawing, painting, taking pictures, completing puzzles, and reading or listening to audio books, can engage senior’s minds and perhaps give them opportunities to be in groups of other contemporaries who also enjoy these activities. Public libraries offer many free resources to help seniors enjoy movies, art, and other activities.