How to Help Seniors Avoid Becoming Socially Frail

adult son and senior father outside drinking coffee
Many seniors are at risk of becoming socially frail, but there are ways to prevent it.

It wasn’t that long ago that we were isolating from each other to protect against spreading COVID-19. The elderly were especially vulnerable, so extra precautions were taken to keep them safe. Solitary lifestyles adopted out of necessity became the new norm for many older adults who have yet to break from this isolation.

We now have learned, however, 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 research study. Seniors who are socially frail can feel devalued, abandoned, and worried about who to turn to in a time of need. Social frailty is also connected to poor health outcomes – meaning it’s vital for doctors to screen for it during regular checkups.

What are the Best Ways to Determine if an Older Adult Is Prone to Becoming Socially Frail?

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 determine risk. This consists of regularly 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 risk of becoming socially frail by truthfully answering the following five questions:

  1. Are you talking to someone each day?
  2. Do you feel as though you are helpful to your friends and family?
  3. Are you living alone?
  4. Are you going out less frequently now than you did last year?
  5. Do you spend time visiting with close friends and family?

With these answers in hand and the doctor’s recommendations, you can help an older loved one adjust their lifestyle to incorporate more time for socializing. Try:

  • Scheduling regular visits, and if possible, outings with the person. Take them out to brunch, museums, the library, or window shopping. Or spend quality time at home together, looking through photo albums and reminiscing, making favorite dishes together, and gleaning any wisdom and advice they have to share.
  • Research local senior centers and classes specifically aimed at older adults. Speak with the person regarding what could be fun to try: water aerobics, bingo night, learning a new language, volunteering, etc.
  • Work together to create a list of family members, friends, and neighbors the individual has not been in contact with as much as they would like. Get in touch with these people to schedule visits and get-togethers.

Serenity Home Care provides another great solution: fully trained and cheerful in-home caregiving companions. We provide opportunities for conversations, reminiscing, fun activities and outings, and so much more. Email or call us at 250-590-8098 for a complimentary in-home consultation today!