Solutions for Social Isolation
The key to successfully addressing social isolation is to engage them with interaction from friends, family, caregivers, or even a therapist if their symptoms appear indicative of depression. These types of social interactions can take many forms.
Visiting the Senior Center
When people think of senior centers, they often think of them as boring places; however, most of them offer a much more fulfilling experience. With group activities such as team sports and cooking classes, senior centers can be a great way to help older adults remain social and active members of their communities. Talk to your geriatrician or friends about the closest one.
Many of these places regularly host lectures, art classes, book clubs, and just about any other activity you might want, all of which mitigate social isolation. Studies show that adults who regularly visit their senior center report higher overall health levels lower levels of clinical depression, and satisfaction with their lives.
One of the greatest benefits of senior centers is the centralization of services: they often provide multiple services such as meal distribution, assistance with medications, group activities, transportation, and health and wellness advice. You will also find many doctors and nurses who regularly visit senior citizens as part of their practice.
Recognized by the Older Americans Act (OAA) as a community focal point, senior centers have become one of the most widely used services among America’s older adults. Senior centers serve as a gateway to the nation’s aging network—connecting 1 million older adults to vital community services. 75 percent of participants visit their center 1 to 3 times per week. They spend an average of 3.3 hours per visit.
No matter where you live, it’s likely volunteer efforts power some organizations. Animal shelters, food banks, and mentoring groups are nearly universal in every American town. Volunteering for one of these organizations is not only a great way to make a difference in your community, but it can also help improve your health.
In a study of Americans aged 60 and over, those who volunteer demonstrated lower levels of disability and higher overall health levels. Volunteering can also be a great way to both make and foster friendships, with each of you working towards a shared purpose. This benefit goes for anyone, regardless of age.
Tax Benefits: If you find yourself spending money to support your volunteer work, this can often be deducted from your taxes.
Adopting a Pet
Studies have shown that having a pet can help decrease blood pressure, lower stress, and even increase heart patients’ longevity. On the less tangible end of things, having a pet can give you a fulfilling sense of companionship, not to mention that dogs, in particular, provide a great excuse to get out of the house and go for a walk.
Additionally, if adopting a pet feels like too big of a commitment, there are many services that allow you to foster animals, caring for them until someone else permanently adopts them. There are also inexpensive dog walkers who can help too if you have limited mobility.
Hiring a Home Companion
While this option is more costly than most, hiring an in-home companion can be a great way to both ward off social isolation and receive proper medical care. Especially for those who live far away from their loved ones, a companion can give you peace of mind that they are being taken care of. Their shifts range from a short four all the way 24 hours a day, seven days a week for those who need very close care and monitoring. Medicare and other health insurance companies often cover a substantial portion of these costs.