Social isolation and its influence on loneliness are a serious and persistent problem. The American Psychological Association suggests that social isolation and loneliness significantly increase the risk for mortality.
However, with a commitment and focus on combating social isolation, you can prevent loneliness.
There are many causes of social isolation. At times isolation occurs suddenly and without warning. Other times, a series of life changes leads to a gradual social withdrawal.
The mental and medical consequences of loneliness are well documented. The COVID-19 virus pandemic contributed to calls for social distancing and increased quarantine orders throughout America and the world. Assisted living communities are not allowing any non-medical personnel on the premises. Activities are canceled and many dining rooms are going to room service only.
These restrictions only contribute to and possibly exacerbate an already big problem. Knowing the consequences can help you plan.
With a “can do” attitude and a willingness to try new things, it is absolutely possible to combat the effects of social isolation and prevent loneliness. Like most challenges in life, resilience and strength are characteristics that take time and effort to build. Our tips will make that possible.
Many seniors struggle with technology, but it can be a lifeline to other people. If you don’t have a computer, iPad or smartphone, consider getting one. Some older adults find an iPad easier to learn than a computer or smartphone. Learning how to use these will open up the world in unexpected ways. Look for classes at senior centers or ask your children or grandchildren to help you. The frustration while learning will pay off! The following are some useful social media platforms to learn.
Don’t be afraid to try new things. Learn a language online, try yoga, do chair exercises to a video, learn pickleball. The opportunities are boundless. If you live in your own home, senior centers and county recreation centers have an amazing array of activities geared toward seniors.
If you are allowed a pet and have the ability to care for one, a pet can be a wonderful companion. Just remember, dogs have to be walked several times a day. Pets can also be a nice conversation icebreaker with other people.
If you live in a senior community, there are likely tons of activities to choose from. Don’t be shy. What do you have to lose by at least trying? There is everything from book clubs and cultural events to traditional crafts. Put yourself out there and try something new.
If you have the ability and time, volunteering is a great way to feel less lonely while giving back to your community. Your Area Agency on Aging will have volunteer opportunities for older adults. And who knows you may make some good friends in the process.
The Institute on Aging (IOA) offers the Friendship Line, a 24/7, toll-free crisis phone line for people aged 60 years and above. Trained volunteers offer a friendly voice to people who are lonely or depressed. Their phone number is 800-971-0016.
If you live alone, consider other congregate housing options. These include cohousing, home-sharing, or even independent senior living. Living with other people helps with isolation and has the added benefit of support when you need it.
Social isolation and loneliness are not an inevitable part of aging. Tackle the problem with verve and grit to lead a happy and productive life.
Alliance America is an insurance and financial services company. Our financial planners and retirement income certified professionals can assist you in maximizing your retirement resources and help you to achieve your future goals. We have access to an array of products and services, all focused on helping you enjoy the retirement lifestyle you want and deserve. You can request a no-cost, no-obligation consultation by calling 888-864-2542 today.