Many people begin to feel lonely as they age. Seniors may have difficulty adjusting to changes in their social circles and physical health. Friends and family may pass away or move to new cities. Other friends their age may experience similar health problems, making it harder to stay in touch.
How can you provide emotional support to your loved one in assisted living?
Learn more about senior loneliness and the benefits of regular family visits for those in assisted living.
Risks of Loneliness in Seniors
Many seniors experience loneliness and depression. For seniors in assisted living, loneliness may stem from being away from family and friends. According to the National Poll on Healthy Aging, one in three seniors reported feeling a lack of companionship. Of this group of seniors, many said that they had poor health.
There are many physical and mental health risks to consistently feeling lonely or isolated, including a higher risk of depression, mental decline, and mortality. Loneliness has been linked to a decline in seniors’ ability to do routine activities, like bathing and dressing.
The National Institute on Aging found that regular social interaction lowers levels of interleukin-6, which can influence Alzheimer’s disease, osteoporosis, and heart disease.
Benefits of Regular Visits
Human beings need social interaction. When we age, we need more emotional support from our family and friends. Family visits can improve your loved one’s overall health and let them know you care.
- Stay mentally engaged. Social interaction may lower the risk of dementia in seniors. In a 2017 study, researchers found that close friends helped people 80 years and older retain the mental agility of people much younger.
- Physical health. Visits can improve your loved one’s physical health, too. Lonely people have higher systolic blood pressure, which can increase their risk of stroke or heart attack. Your visit can take the form of physical activity, such as a stroll around the assisted living community.
- Live longer. Older adults who regularly participate in social activities have stronger immune systems and higher life satisfaction. Loneliness increases several mental and physical health risks. Visiting your loved one regularly may help them stay healthy longer.
- Build strong relationships. With each visit, you’ll be able to maintain a meaningful relationship with your loved one. Regular visits are an opportunity to create new memories with your loved one and share important life experiences.
- Spread the love. Spending time with friends and family members will make your loved one feel cared for and happy. Your visits will help them feel connected to the people they know and love.
Social Activities for Seniors
You may be unsure how to engage elderly loved ones in social activities. Depending on their health, some seniors may not be up for extended visits or walks.
The next time you visit your loved one, try one of these activities:
- Have a conversation. Sometimes the simplest acts are the most meaningful. Having a deep conversation can make your loved one feel appreciated.
- Look at old photos. A trip down memory lane can make anyone’s day better. Bring in an old photo album and look at it together on your next visit.
- Do a puzzle. Putting together a puzzle or playing a game is a fun way to engage with your loved one. You can talk while you piece puzzles together, or let your competitive streak shine with a game.
- Help them pursue a hobby. Hobbies give people a sense of purpose, and they often help relieve stress. Whether they like to knit, garden, or cook, you can join in on your loved one’s hobby.
- Bring the kids. Your loved one may feel young at heart. Help them feel even younger by bringing your kids with you when you visit. Spending time with their grandchildren will bring your loved one joy and create cherished memories.
At Culpepper Place, you’re always welcome to visit your loved one. Do you want to learn more about the benefits of our assisted living community?