Today many seniors prefer to stay in their own homes as long as possible, but family and friends often have concerns for their safety and well-being. Some of these issues can be resolved quickly and easily, such as adding a new railing along the front walk or modifying the shower. Others, like avoiding loneliness, will require ongoing effort.
As your senior finds it more and more difficult to visit friends or participate in community activities, loneliness becomes a bigger challenge. Consider these ideas to help your senior stay connected:
Identify Friends Nearby
It’s easy to assume that your senior will be able to stay connected with neighbors, but before you do, take stock of who actually lives nearby. Long-time neighbors may have moved away, or they may have their own health or mobility limitations. Newer neighbors may be happy to stop by for an occasional visit, but they won’t know they should unless you ask.
Start by finding out which neighbors your senior feels comfortable with, and then begin reaching out. Creating a community of others that are also aging in place offers a sense of stability. If your senior is unable to visit friends on his own, a caregiver can provide transportation to their homes or community events, or help host when friends stop by your senior’s house.
Plan Regular Visits
Be sure to consider how often you’ll be able to visit. Even with the best intentions, many adult children find that work, family responsibilities, and travel time limit their visits more than they’d like. A caregiver can step in to spend time with your senior on days that you or other family members are unavailable. Or, the caregiver could bring your senior to your home for a visit when time is short.
If you live far away, consider how your senior might visit you. Is it simply a matter of finding transportation, or has long-distance travel become too difficult to make trips a realistic option? If your senior’s health doesn’t limit travel, the right caregiver can make it possible.
Take time to consider the weekly and daily activities that will keep your senior stimulated and occupied. Feeling needed is especially valuable, so encourage your senior to continue doing household chores like simple cooking or cleaning if they can. You might also check with community organizations for manageable volunteer opportunities.
Be sure to help your senior modify favorite hobbies. Gardening can be done from a chair with a raised bed or pots. An avid reader can switch to audio books to overcome poor vision. Again, a caregiver can step in to help with these activities as your senior’s abilities decrease.To help seniors avoid loneliness, look for ways that they can continue living a full life – doing the things they enjoy and interacting with the people they love – for as long as possible. It may require a bit of creativity, and some extra support from a caregiver, but it can be done.