Isolation is always a concern for senior citizens who live alone, but it becomes especially dangerous during winter months. The Indiana winter weather can make it tough for older adults to get out of the house, further increasing feelings of loneliness. The reduction in daylight hours during the winter can also lead to depression. It can all add up to increased health risks for Indiana’s seniors.
The Dangers of Isolation
According to the AARP Foundation, “the need for social connection is rooted in our basic urge to survive, and is wired into the neurons in our brains.” Human evolution has, in part, been dependent upon our ability to form social connections. As we get older, however, it is not uncommon to pull away from socializing.
The U.S. Census Bureau estimated in 2010 that 11 million people over the age of 65 lived alone. A 2011 survey on aging administered by AARP revealed that the majority of seniors today are attempting to remain in their own homes as they age. These seniors are more likely to suffer from isolation if they live alone. It can lead to higher blood pressure levels, higher rates of mortality and a quicker cognitive decline.
There are, however, plenty of ways that seniors living alone can combat isolation during winter months and year round.
Tips to Help Seniors Avoid Isolation this Winter
Here are a few suggestions:
Joining a Senior Center
Neighborhood senior centers are a great resource for those in need of social connection. Creating a strong sense of community, senior centers offer a wide range of activities–from classes, field trips and special events–that not only spark conversation, but stimulate the mind and body. Some even offer transportation.
Attending an Adult Day Program
Adult Day Programs are offered through local senior centers and at some senior living communities. At Five Star Senior Living, our Adult Day program offers supervision and stimulation for seniors who do not want to, or cannot be, left alone during the day. Seniors who participate in the Adult Day program can enjoy social interactions and recreational activities that help to enrich their lives.
Stay In Touch via Social Media
Social media is not just for millennials! A recent Pew Research Center report on social media found that 62% of adults over the age of 65 now use Facebook and 20 percent are on LinkedIn. Social media helps seniors connect to a variety of people in their lives, both family members and friends, and helps to fight off negative effects of isolation.
Skype or other Video Chat Services
Skype is a free platform you can use to video chat with family and friends. Seniors who use video chat services have reported feeling uplifted afterwards. Seeing loved one’s faces while talking really makes them feel more connected to their family and friends.
Resources for Caregivers
As a caregiver to an aging loved one, it’s important that you take the time to check in on them regularly during the winter months to evaluate on their health and wellness. If you see signs of isolation or loneliness, consider encouraging your loved one to participate in one of the above activities.
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