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Many people worry that their senior loved ones spend too much time alone, and may be suffering from isolation. But there are many ways for people to stay connected to the older adults in their lives. And, studies show that seniors are physically and mentally healthier when they maintain social connection and foster relationships.
It’s important to remember that it takes a team to ensure the highest quality physical and mental care for a senior. According to the CARP, nearly one in five family caregivers is providing unpaid care for an adult with health or functional needs. There are many ways that other family and friends can provide social support and create meaningful interactions with their senior loved one.
For those trying to connect with a senior in their life, they can consider the following options:
Teach them something new – while many seniors are adept at using technology, some could use extra help getting set up for video chats or finding sources of online connection. Helping a senior learn to use new technology can be a fun bonding experience and pays off in continued contact! And if the family member or friend isn’t an expert, they can consider taking a class together.
A study by William Chopik, a professor at Michigan State University, found “greater technology use was associated with better self-rated health, fewer chronic conditions, higher subjective well-being and lower depression.”
Involve others – Group video chats have never been easier to set up, and there are free options that are great for small groups or paid options for larger gatherings of friends and families. Seeing each other’s faces and sharing stories is a great way to stay connected.
Play together online – Popular board games have gone virtual! Classics like Monopoly, Scattergories and Scrabble can be played online together, and there are a host of sites with card games, trivia and other fun activities to do together. Sometimes, a game night is all it takes to make people feel closer.
About one-third of Canadians 65 and older don’t use the internet. Even among those who use it, roughly one-third aren’t confident when performing tasks online.
Spend time in-person when possible – While it may not always be possible, it’s great to see loved ones when the situation permits. Families should take some time out of their week when possible to take their senior loved ones to community events, or plan special meals at home. This can be especially important for seniors with mobility issues that can keep them from doing the activities they love outside of the home.
Become pen pals – The art of writing letters may be rare today, but everyone still loves to receive notes in the mail. Send letters with updates, drawings, photos and other small mementos, and encourage the recipient to reply. Letters and cards will quickly become cherished memories that can be shared and revisited in times of separation.
Consider hiring an in-home caregiver – For seniors that need a little extra help around the house, a caregiver not only provides assistance with daily living, but companionship and conversation too. And, a caregiver can facilitate calls and video chats with loved ones. Caregivers are also trained to keep seniors safe in their home, and can be a great option to provide companionship during periods of illness or isolation.
Comfort Keepers® Can Help
For seniors that need companionship or help fighting loneliness, Comfort Keepers caregivers can help with encouragement, support and assistance with daily living. And, caregivers can encourage overall health through meal planning, grocery shopping, meal preparation and activities. Our custom care plans focus on physical and mental health and wellness activities. Our goal is to see that clients have the means to find the joy and happiness in each day, regardless of age or acuity.
AARP. “Tech Training Builds Connection and Confidence for Older Adults.” Web. 2018.
Statistics Canada. “ Study: Evolving Internet Use Among Canadian Seniors.” Web. 2019
Forbes. “More Seniors Are Embracing Technology. But Can They Use It? UCSD Researchers Suggest Asking Them.” Web. 2019.
Psychology Today. “How to Help Older Adults Fight Loneliness During COVID-19”. Web. 2020.
Thrive Global. “How Technology can Help Seniors. Web. 2019.
AARP and National Alliance for Caregiving. Caregiving in the United States 2020. Web. 2020.
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