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How to Reduce Social Isolation for Seniors

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Easing loneliness in older adults is only part of the equation

Many studies over the years have shown a link between social isolation and loneliness and an increase in mortality rates. This is particularly true when it comes to loneliness in the elderly, with AARP claiming a 26 percent increased risk of death due to subjective feelings of loneliness. With 51 percent of the senior population aged 75 and older living alone, loneliness and social isolation are serious concerns.

There isn’t one specific reason, but rather many that lead to social isolation. Factors that can increase the effects of social isolation include:

  • Lack of transportation
  • Health challenges
  • Being a caregiver
  • Loss of a spouse
  • Loss of friends
  • Poverty
  • Living in remote or rural areas

Senior care facilities have a special role to play in preventing social isolation and loneliness by providing many ways to counter the effects of social isolation and loneliness, depending on the person’s situation.

Differences between social isolation and loneliness

With social isolation leading to so many health issues, it’s critical for senior care centers to reach out to the elderly through various social isolation interventions. Providing social opportunities will help alleviate social isolation and loneliness in the elderly.

Here are some ways senior care centers can get seniors involved with others in their facility and community:

  • Providing social opportunities, including group meals and outings
  • Providing transportation to social activities or adult day care programs
  • Provide opportunities for regular volunteer work
  • Help residents discover hobbies and arrange group activities for people who share those interests
  • Have regular walking and exercise groups
  • Hold classes to teach seniors something new
  • Set up visits with residents of other local senior centers

If transportation is an issue and people can’t get out, it may be necessary to go to them. Different social isolation intervention methods that can be used to reach people where they live may include home-delivered meal programs, such as Meals on Wheels, or visits by a home health aide.

How senior care facilities can help reduce social isolation

If you’re concerned someone you know may be suffering the effects of social isolation, it may be a good time to reach out to them and see what services you can offer. Your facility may already offer programs such as group dining, group activities and opportunities for outings, all of which can provide a strong social network for people experiencing social isolation. Personal care assistants may also help alleviate social isolation whenever a loved one needs it.

If you are looking for ways to design or remodel your facility to accommodate community and social programs for seniors, contact Community Living Solutions. Simply contact us, or call 920-969-9344 to discuss your plans.