Aging in place refers to continuing to live in your home as you grow older. This can be a wonderful and ideal experience that allows seniors to maintain their independence, stay close to familiar surroundings, and enjoy their favorite comforts.
However, living alone can sometimes lead to social isolation and that can have health consequences for aging adults. By staying in contact with friends and family, and engaging in fun activities, seniors can avoid social isolation and maintain their physical and mental health.
Why it’s important to avoid social isolation
Social isolation can cause serious health consequences, and the CDC states that nearly 25% of adults aged 65 and older are socially isolated. As we grow older, our social lives can shrink, which can be a natural process. Kids leave the nest, a spouse, partner, or pet dies, we retire from a job, or close friends and family move away.
On top of that, chronic illness and hearing loss can cause additional barriers to having a full social life. If someone is already experiencing social isolation, it can increase the risk for other conditions, such as depression, cognitive decline, and heart disease, which can get in the way of being social.
These changes may start slow but can add up quickly as older adults begin to slow down. As a caregiver, we can help by encouraging our loved ones to take steps to stay productive or connect with others regularly.
Staying in touch with adults aging in place
Thanks to technology, staying in touch with our loved ones is easier than ever. Outlets like social media, video chat, and email can ensure aging adults communicate regularly no matter how far away they may live.
Regular communication is essential to helping aging adults feel connected and supported. As caregivers, we can show them how to use specific apps and features on their smartphones, tablets, or computers. By spending just a few minutes helping them set up social media profiles and introducing them to apps can open a new world. All these factors can go a long way toward helping aging adults feel more empowered and independent and less isolated.
A recent AARP survey shows that video games are popular among people 50 and older. According to the study, “In just three years, the study found that the number of older adults who play video games frequently has grown from 40.2 million gamers in 2016 to 50.6 million gamers in 2019.”
Respondents said they found the games fun (three out of four older Americans surveyed). Another 57 percent find gaming to be a stress reducer. Staying mentally sharp and challenged are bonuses commonly cited among people as they age.
While the survey found that 93% of gamers play video games alone, of those who played with others in person or online said play was more fun and four in 10 reports that they interact socially during play.
If you are caring for someone with a chronic condition, introduce them to technologies that allow them to call for emergency medical help if they suffer a fall or accident while alone in their home. For instance, the Medical Alert necklace, such as a Mini Guardian, can always be worn to keep aging adults connected to help 24/7.
Ways to include aging adults in your life
Including aging adults in your day-to-day life can help them expand their lives. This can be a rewarding experience for both aging adults and caregivers. There are many practical and enjoyable ways to do this.
Here’s how to include aging adults in your life:
Plan in-person visits.
Visit an aging adult at least once a week to chat over coffee, walk to the park, or share a meal. These visits help break the monotony of the daily routine and give them something to look forward to.
Make care calls regularly.
Call an aging adult at least once or twice a week to touch base and find out how they’re doing. Care calls can help both of you feel more valued and included and allow you to catch up.
Volunteer to provide transportation.
Vision loss, hearing loss, and other disabilities can often prevent aging adults from leaving the house and staying connected with others. Offering a ride to and from the doctor, grocery store, and fun events can be a big help.
Keep them engaged in hobbies and interests.
Hearing loss and loss of mobility are factors that can prevent aging adults from maintaining their favorite hobbies and interests. Find creative ways to help them stay engaged or introduce them to new activities, such as gardening, that give them a sense of purpose and fulfillment.
Consider home care services.
Home care workers can help with household tasks and provide transportation, and they can often be a great source of support and companionship.
Encourage participation in community activities.
Volunteer work, church groups, and senior centers can give aging adults a sense of purpose and help them feel more connected to their communities.
At Medical Guardian, we understand how important it is for aging adults to stay connected to others without jeopardizing their physical and mental health. We offer a Medical Alert necklace for aging adults on the go, along with home systems that can alert emergency medical services with the simple touch of a button. Contact us today at (800) 668-9200 to learn more about our many medical alert systems for adults aging in place.