By some estimates, over a quarter of seniors live alone in their homes, as many as 11 million adults in the U.S. alone. Many want to maintain their independence, and while staying at home does allow them to do so, it can also lead to isolation and loneliness.
As seniors age, they are less likely to be able to leave their homes due to lack of mobility and the inability to drive or take public transportation.
They can’t keep up their regular routines, which means they don’t get the social interaction they’re accustomed to. In addition, they may lose friends to cancer and other conditions, so they have fewer people to reach out to in their lives.
Isolation can have detrimental effects on seniors’ health. Not surprisingly, it affects their mental health, often leading to depression and other issues.
What’s not as obvious is it can affect their physical health, too. For one, they don’t get as much exercise when they’re not getting out of the house. In addition, it can increase their chances of mortality, likely because they don’t have people around them to recognize the symptoms of worsening conditions and get them help.
While loneliness can be an issue for seniors, you can help combat it. Here are some ways to help out the loved ones in your life:
- Aim for at least once a week if you can. If you can’t visit that often, call them regularly to let them know you’re thinking about them.
- If your loved one is stuck at home, they’ll enjoy getting out once in awhile. Try taking them out to dinner or a movie. Go to the park with them or just visit the local coffee shop. Even better, take them to see a friend or relative!
- When you visit, make sure you’re looking for changes in behavior and their overall health. If you notice a change, encourage them to seek advice from a doctor.
- If you can’t visit as often as you like, have home health services come in to check on your loved one’s progress. Often, these kinds of visits are covered under Medicare, especially if your loved one is home-bound.
While maintaining independence is important, it’s equally important that you do your best to keep your loved one happy and healthy!