As technology continues to forge connections between many otherwise disconnected groups, such as families living across oceans or soul mates who meet in a digital space, one group continues to be left behind: America’s seniors.
In fact, as of the 2010 census report, 28.3 percent of the population aged 65 and older lived alone – that’s 11 million seniors. And more than 70 percent of those who lived alone were women.
Unfortunately, while many of these seniors may make it seem as though living alone works for them, research continually shows that quality of life and mental health deteriorate exponentially when seniors live alone.
If you are worried about a loved one who is living alone, use these tips to help them overcome isolation:
1. Deliver fresh meals as often as possible.
Many seniors who live alone do not eat a balanced diet. If you’re cooking for your family, consider making enough to bring to your loved one. Often, seniors no longer have the ability to use an oven, or they have trouble remembering their favorite recipes.
By providing meals often, you’ll be giving your loved one much-deserved company and access to food he or she would probably not otherwise be able to enjoy.
2. Invite your loved one on walks or to the movies.
A slow walk through Jackson City Park is a great way to enjoy cooler weather and relaxing scenes.If your loved one has difficulty walking, going to the movies is another great way to get out of the house. Plus, if you go to lunch or dinner afterward, you can discuss your favorite scenes. If going to the theater seems too stressful for your loved one, consider renting a movie and cooking a meal together.
3. Drive your loved one to meetings or local events.
If your loved one cannot drive, offer to drive him or her around. Find organizations that allow discussion like book clubs, and drive your loved one to them. If you cannot always make yourself available to drive, ask your mutual family and friends to help, or offer to set up transportation services.
It’s hard for anybody to ask for help, so pay attention to cues from your loved one that may signify he or she needs help getting from place to place.
4. Play cards or dominoes.
Simple games like cards or dominoes can keep the mind active while still allowing for conversation. Dominoes is an easy game to learn, and having a deck of cards on hand unlocks many games. Invite your loved one over and enjoy a weekly game night.
5. Start a conversation about assisted living.
No matter how much you do for your loved one, without a proper safety net, he or she could be susceptible to loneliness and the issues that come with it:
- high blood pressure
- impaired mobility
- a higher risk of mortality
When you start the conversation, remind your loved one you are worried he or she might be too alone and that you only want his or her life to be filled with opportunities for engaging activities and support.
It’s not an easy conversation to have, but laying the foundation for a discussion about senior living when you meet could mean improving your loved one’s quality of life. At the same time, understand that this is a big decision for your loved one and he or she will need time to consider it.
Find ways to initiate conversations without seeming too aggressive. Consider visiting assisted living open houses or attending free events at assisted living facilities with your loved one. This is a great way to converse with your loved one about his or her options while having a professional senior living resource nearby.
With our assisted living community in Jackson, Missouri, we aim to remedy the isolation many seniors encounter by offering an array of activities to promote social balance and wellness. In addition to monitoring nutrition, offering medication management services and including many on-site relaxation spots, we completely personalize our residents’ experiences.
The Villas of Jackson is senior living for the young at heart. Learn how we are like no other assisted living community: Schedule a tour.