Isolated older people tend to have more mobility issues, cognitive decline
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Q: My dad lives alone and needs to be socialized. What can we do?
A: I get a lot of questions about the benefits of socialization by families of seniors.
It’s sad to say, but seniors who experience the loneliness of isolation have more physical discomfort. This includes mobility issues and (especially) cognitive decline.
As people age, they tend to become less active. Over time, older people can settle into increasingly sedentary routines.
Many may find it easier to watch TV alone than hang out with friends or join an exercise group.
These adults should watch their activity levels now – or suffer the health consequences.
Three previous One Senior Place columns:
A healthy social life is very important for older people.
The need for companionship, love and support does not diminish as we age.
Healthy relationships are necessary at any age!
Regular social interaction helps us stay mentally, emotionally and even physically fit.
It reduces the risk of depression, decreases anxiety and helps maintain self-esteem. High levels of socialization in old age may even positively influence longevity.
So what can seniors do to get active?
There are many forms of age-friendly social activity, from tech-focused hookups to outings and happy hours.
My brother-in-law always tells me, “Don’t retire until you have a hobby. You have to occupy yourself physically and mentally.
So, I found a hobby, but I’m too busy working to enjoy it!
For those who are already retired, here are some suggestions from The Experts in Aging at One Senior Place.
- Join an exercise class or walking group
- Swimming or aquagym lessons
- Hire a companion (if you live alone) and go out for lunch each week
- Find out about the activities of your local senior center
- Volunteering at the zoo, the library or the Brevard hospice
- Join a book club, travel club, or social club
- Take sewing, cooking or art classes
- Enroll in a math class or adult enrichment class
What about a part-time job?
Doing something you love will allow you to meet people AND earn extra income.
For those who live alone, it can be very comforting to be surrounded by other people again. And if you’re considering moving to a seniors’ community, you’ll find that many offer an incredible array of social activities, day trips, and amenities like swimming pools and restaurant-style dining.
Here’s an oldie but a goodie: “Add years to your life by adding life to your years.”
It’s true! Now get off the couch and do something fun. Need more suggestions? Call me at 321-751-6771.
One Senior Place is a resource marketplace and provider of on-site information, advice, care and services for seniors and their families. The questions in this column are answered by professionals in nursing, social work, care management and home care. Send your questions to askOSP@OneSeniorPlace.com, call 321-751-6771 or visit The Experts in Aging at OneSeniorPlace.com.
Barbara Fradkin is a social worker, certified care manager and director of One Senior Place, Viera.