As people age, they go through a number of changes physically and mentally. Having to adapt to changing circumstances, altered social dynamics and decrease in self-esteem can affect the mental health of seniors. Theymay slowly start withdrawing from society. This could lead to social isolation, which in turn can lead to loneliness and depression.
Some common problems that cause social isolation include:
- Age related hearing loss
- Age related vision loss
- Impaired mobility due to illness
Mental and cognitive impairments
- Memory loss
Change in life situations
- Losing a loved one
- Losing a friend of the same age
Altered quality of life
- Dependence on others in daily life activities
- Economic distress
- No longer being able to drive
Ways to help your senior avoid social isolation
Encourage them to keep in touch with friends by arranging get-togethers, lunches and activities for them.
Keep them connected with relatives by taking them for family events like weddings, festivals etc.
Make sure that they have regular doctor visits to ensure that their physical and mental health is monitored and issues attended to.
Take them to the doctor to address problems of incontinence, loss of hearing or vision. If they are given the right help and counseling, they will soon build up enough confidence to go out more.
For seniors who are spiritual, encourage them to go on temple visits and arrange pilgrimages with friends or family.
Give them a sense of importance by allocating responsibilities. It could be something small like help with chores around the house, cooking, gardening etc.
Encourage them to take on a small consulting role in the same field that they worked in. They could even mentor younger people who are starting out. This will greatly enhance theirself-esteem.
Many seniors feel bad about physical changes like putting onweight or physical impairments and tend to shun society due to embarrassment. Counselingcan help them develop a positive body and self-image.
Encourage them to start some new activity or join a club. This will help them meet new people as well as keep them occupied.
Show them that they are loved. Nothing builds up a sense of happiness than a feeling of belonging and love. Plan activities with them. Call them every day. Encourage other family members to interact with them often.
Make sure that they get counseling and support if they suffer a loss. It could be a friend, a family member or even a lifelong pet. Hold their hand through the grief. This will help them get over the grief and continue living a quality life.
Make sure that they can get around town easily. It would be great if you can drop and pick them up or if you can have your car and driver at their disposal. If that isn’t possible, there are many other ways to make sure that transportation is available when they require.
Growing old is tough. Help your elderly adapt to the change!