As we get older, it’s common to lead a more solitary life. In fact, over 11 million men and women above the age of 65 who do not live in a care facility live alone.1 Furthermore, the rate of loneliness has gone up in the United States, with 40 percent of seniors saying they feel lonely.2 If you are Aging in Place, then you might not have the community of an assisted living facility to rely on. Isolation may not only make you feel lonely, but it can also affect your health, as those who identified as lonely were 59 percent more likely to have functional decline in daily activities compared to their non-lonely peers.3 In this post, Staying Put at Home considers what you can do to stay up-to-date with your friends and social network while also forming new friendships within your community.
How to Connect With Loved Ones and Stay Active in Your Community
Loneliness doesn’t need to affect your health or your daily life. Here are just a few ways you can connect with your community and nurture existing relationships:
- Seniors can use Skype, FaceTime or other video chat software to talk with long-distance friends and loved ones. While it is not exactly the same as having your friend in the living room with you, it is a step up from talking on the phone.
- Connect with friends and family on social media. Studies show that using social media websites foster connectivity and community.4 By using Facebook or Twitter, seniors can check-in on friends and loved ones.
- Look into classes at your local college or university. Many colleges allow older adults to audit classes for free or at a discounted rate. This can let you develop relationships with people across a broad age range, exposing you to new perspectives you might not find otherwise. Not only can you meet new people, but you can develop new skills and stay sharp by challenging yourself.
- Visit your local senior center. These facilities usually have group activities, exercise programs and classes that can introduce you to other seniors in your area. You might even develop a new hobby and make some new friends. Most community and senior centers offer helpful computer and social media classes.
- Research senior networks in your area. For example, Pasadena, CA has the Senior Care Network, which offers programs and classes for seniors and helps coordinate care and service delivery.5 Not only is this a convenient method to get care, but it can be a great way to meet others who are in a similar living situation.
- Volunteer, if you are able. If there is a cause or organization that you are especially interested in, then volunteering can help give you a feeling of accomplishment. It can also introduce you to people with similar interests, which can foster new relationships.
- Sign up for Meals on Wheels. Even if you don’t need the meal, the group will send someone to your home on a routine basis who can check up on you.
- Adopt a pet or visit an animal. Therapy animals have been shown to help seniors feel relaxed, lift moods, ward off heart disease and lower health care costs.6 While it isn’t realistic for many seniors to take care of an animal, many communities offer programs that help seniors connect with animals. One example is Pets for the Elderly. Caring for a pet can also give a senior a sense of purpose, which can combat depression.
Always remember that you have options when it comes to building and maintaining relationships. We hope that our look into the potential solutions to senior loneliness helps. If you have your own suggestions, then please share with the Staying Put at Home community in the comments section.
1. Fighting Senior Isolation? You’re Not Alone | Return to Text
2. When Being Alone Turns to Loneliness, There are Ways to Fight Back | Return to Text
3. How to End the Senior Loneliness Epidemic | Return to Text
4. Does Posting Online Facebook Status Updates Increase or Decrease Loneliness? | Return to Text
5. About Huntington Hospital Senior Care Network | Return to Text
6. Pet Therapy and the Benefits of Pets in Senior Living | Return to Text