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Warning Signs of Isolation in Seniors

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Warning Signs of Isolation in Seniors

The behavior to Look for and Life-enriching Responses

 

Do you know the best way to measure the effect of your senior loved one's isolation? Measure your own. Now increase by a factor of age, lack of mobility, loss of control, and loss of physical touch. After prolonged periods of isolation, ordinary, small anxieties can begin to resemble anxiety disorders. First, know what to look for:

  • Are they sleeping? Loneliness makes for erratic sleep. Lack of exercise and increased anxiety aggravates sleeplessness.
  • Are they spending more? It’s a substitute for social connection, a kind of behavioral “comfort food” for some people.
  • Are they eating well? It’s normal to eat less with age, but a dramatic drop in appetite could signal feelings of loneliness.
  • Have phone calls changed frequency? A significant change in the number and time of phone calls can signal isolation.

Now, what can you do about it?

Listen. You may hear your loved ones feel they are being forgotten. This may be a simple request for your attention. If they make up errands for you, it’s a way of asking for company. That’s not a bad thing. Our answer is social engagement through Life Enrichment (LE) in Assisted Living residences. The program provides dozens of planned activities – and opportunities to meet new friends and interesting people – every month.

Use technology. Yes, we know the challenges. The reality is social media at its best is very social when they can’t be social in person. Tutor your loved one on phone and mobile device use. Many seniors find that “telehealth” services are vital when they can’t get to the doctor, especially to continue mental health treatment. Most insurance companies, including Medicare, also cover telemedicine. Meditation apps are easy to use and cheap or free. Soothing natural sounds have a calming effect, and many people use them as sleep aids, reducing the dependence on medicine.

Collaborate. Brainstorm about things they can do to keep their mind active. Ask them to tell their story. And make it a project. You can do this in a series of phone calls or ask them to write it down. Remember the simple power of “having something to look forward to.”

This article was submitted by Legend Senior Living.

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