4 Ways to Help Seniors Stay Socially Connected

March 1, 2024
February 27, 2024

Everyone feels lonely at times, especially for seniors living alone, but is it really a big deal? It can be if that loneliness extends for a prolonged period and goes from feeling alone to having little to no social network or infrequent connection with the network you do have. That is what's known as social isolation, which the AARP defines as being psychologically and/or physically detached from support groups of family, friends, and community. What's more, they equate the impact of social as being as harmful to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day and more harmful than obesity. While it can be challenging for seniors aging in place, there are ways to help your loved one stay more socially connected. Here's how.

The struggle to stay socially connected

The reality is that maintaining social connections as we age isn't as easy as when we were younger and had that built-in network through school, work, and our children. However, even aside from that, additional reasons why seniors may have less opportunity to be social at this time in life include the following:

  • Living alone
  • Hearing/vision loss
  • Limited mobility
  • Limited transportation options
  • Being a caregiver for a spouse with a serious condition
  • Chronic health conditions  
  • Psychological or cognitive challenges
  • Going through a life transition such as retirement or the loss of a spouse

Social isolation and senior health

However, the CDC recently highlighted a National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) study, which estimates that nearly a quarter of adults aged 65 and older are socially isolated. What does this mean for senior health? The NASEM study found that social isolation significantly increased a person's risk of premature death from all causes, in addition to the following:

  • Greater risk for high blood pressure
  • Greater risk for heart disease
  • Greater susceptibility to the flu and other infectious diseases
  • Earlier onset of dementia
  • Greater risk for anxiety and depression
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Helping your loved one stay socially connected

The good news is that it's not necessarily the number of people in your loved one's network; rather, it's the quality of those connections that can help them avoid social isolation. Here are some ways for seniors to stay socially connected.  

  • Take advantage of technology – It's easier than ever to overcome distance, lack of transportation, and even mobility challenges with FaceTime, Zoom, or even a simple phone call to stay connected with friends and family. Encourage your loved one to contact at least one of these people daily.
  • Consider their daily routine – If their daily routine doesn't involve much socializing, then consider helping them do something different, like starting a walking group or book club with the neighbors. Or, look at local clubs and classes that may appeal to your loved one.  
  • Get them involved – Volunteering is not only a way to give back, but it's also a great opportunity to meet people with similar interests. So help them keep active in causes they love or find new options for them. Beyond volunteering, you could also help your loved one get involved in their community by encouraging them to attend local events, support local teams, join a faith-based organization, serve on a local board, and even shop locally.  
  • Get them a pet – But ask them first, of course! Pets are wonderful companions for seniors and provide ample opportunity to connect with others, whether at the dog park, cat café, or on walks through the neighborhood.

Staying socially connected in a senior living community

Should you still find it hard to keep your loved one socially connected, senior living communities like ours can help make it easier. In fact, social connection is actually one of the biggest draws of senior living. Here's how we foster those connections:

  • A community of friends – Residents are never alone in senior living with us. Friends, neighbors, and caring associates are always nearby. Plus, we provide home maintenance, housekeeping, and meals so your loved one has more time to stay socially connected!
  • More social opportunities – We offer a full calendar of fun and engaging options like social events, exercise programs, classes, clubs, live music and entertainment, opportunities for creative expression, game nights, group outings, religious services, volunteer opportunities, and more!  
  • A convenient lifestyle – Everything your loved one needs to stay socially connected will be right outside their door in senior living. While most activities are on-site, we provide transportation to offsite outings. Our community also has a variety of amenities like a fitness center, library, beautiful grounds, and common areas perfect for spending time with neighbors, friends, and family.
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