It wasn’t that long ago that we were isolating from one another to protect against spreading COVID-19. The elderly were particularly vulnerable, so additional precautions were taken to keep them safe. Solitary lifestyles adopted out of necessity became the new norm for a number of older adults who have yet to break out of this isolation. What can we do to help improve socialization for seniors?
We have learned that there are dangerous health risks to social deprivation. Social frailty, also referred to as social vulnerability, is more common than both physical and cognitive frailty combined, according to a recently available study. Those who are socially frail can feel devalued, abandoned, and fearful about who to turn to in a time of need. Social frailty is also associated with poor health outcomes – meaning it is critical for physicians to screen for it during regular checkups.
What Are the Best Ways to Determine if an Older Adult Is Susceptible to Social Frailty?
A geriatrician will know to screen for social vulnerability. If a senior loved one sees a general practice physician, however, you can ask them to use the Social Frailty Index to ascertain risk. This consists of routinely assessing the person’s level of social isolation and loneliness, access to internet services, obstacles to transportation, and more.
You can start by asking an older loved one to self-assess their social vulnerability by honestly answering the following five questions:
- Do you spend time visiting with close friends and family?
- Are you living alone?
- Are you speaking with someone every day?
- Do you feel as though you are helpful to your family and friends?
- Are you going out less often now than you did a year ago?
With these answers in hand along with the doctor’s recommendations, you can help a senior loved one modify their lifestyle to include more time for socializing. Try:
- Scheduling regular visits, and if possible, outings with the person. Take them out to lunch, museums, the library, or window shopping. Or spend quality time at home together, reminiscing and looking through photo albums, creating favorite dishes together, and gleaning any advice and wisdom they have to share.
- Research local senior centers and classes specifically geared towards older adults. Talk with the person regarding what might be fun to try: water aerobics, bingo night, learning a new language, volunteering, etc.
- Work together to create a list of neighbors, family members, and friends the senior has not been in touch with as much as they would like. Get in touch with these people to arrange for visits and get-togethers.
Superior Senior Home Care provides another excellent solution: fully trained and cheerful in-home caregiving companions. We offer opportunities for reminiscing, conversations, fun outings and activities, and more to boost socialization for seniors. Call us at 805-737-4357 for a free in-home consultation today to learn more about our services in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties.