Staying Social

We are well aware that humans are social creatures. We need contact with others for many needs, including staying healthy. Chances are you know, or have heard of, a senior who prefers to stay home and ‘live quietly’. Someone who doesn’t go out – either because he or she doesn’t like to, or feels there is no reason to. Someone who no longer remains active, doesn’t like to have guests, and doesn’t prefer to cook. This often happens with seniors who live alone. The main problem with this is that often health can be neglected – failing to exercise, cook healthy meals, or continuing to challenge the mind because a social group is lacking.

Aside from remaining physically healthy through outings and activities, refraining from socializing can also put an individual at risk of depression. An inactive individual can easily become withdrawn and depressed, thus it is equally important for emotional health that seniors stay social.

Why do seniors become lonely?

Have you ever heard a senior refer to a senior’s group as ‘old people’? Sometimes seniors don’t identify with senior homes or adult day care centres because they don’t see themselves at that stage of life. It can be hard to convince your senior parent or loved one that joining the ‘old people’ will be fun as well as good for them.

Other times, a senior who has lost their companion who they might have used to walk with, go out with, cook with, play cards with, etc., will simply forget to or not be interested in continuing these healthy activities alone. Making new friends does not come naturally to everyone, and these seniors require more encouragement to socialise now that they are living alone.

Where can a lonely senior go to socialise?

Do some research in your community to see what is available. Aside from established centres such as adult day cares and senior communities, there are plenty of groups that a senior can enjoy. A great place to start would be a gym that has classes for seniors. Attending a fitness class has a twofold of staying fit and meeting other gym members. Joining a club that interests your senior loved one – may it be walking, bowling, bridge, sailing, a book club, or something else they like – will probably be the most enticing option for getting out and starting a new social activity.

How do I convince my senior loved one to socialise?

As a caregiver, telling your parent or senior loved one that they need to get out more can be difficult. Many people simply enjoy their privacy and relaxing alone. While there is nothing at all wrong with living alone and enjoying time to yourself, it is still important to schedule some time outside the home and with others. Do your research, and explain to your senior loved one the importance of being socially active and going out to do something each day. Chances are, addressing a health concern (ie daily activity decreases risk of Alzheimer’s) may be very motivational. If the issue becomes sensitive, don’t push it. As with any lifestyle change, it is best to happen gradually.