Social isolation is a common danger for seniors. Not only can there be psychological consequences—loneliness, depression—but there are physical health risks associated as well, such as cardiovascular disease, decreased physical activity, increased risk for dementia, exacerbated symptoms of chronic illness such as arthritis, and increased mortality. Social networks within senior living communities are a good place to start when it comes to preventing isolation and its complications, but it’s also important to involve seniors in their local community.
Here are a few ways that seniors can fight isolation by getting involved and giving back to their communities:
The rewarding benefits of volunteering cannot be overstated. Seniors who regularly participate in volunteer programs experience improved mental health, extended longevity, and greater overall wellbeing. Volunteering in and around the community helps seniors feel like they are making a difference and gives them a sense of purpose that decreases the likelihood of succumbing to loneliness or experiencing isolation. Volunteer groups also provide a positive social network that connects seniors to the larger local community.
Seniors who have been lifelong churchgoers should be encouraged to maintain membership and weekly attendance at their place of worship. The social connections built within congregations provide a strong network of support that benefits people of all ages, but is especially beneficial for seniors. Churches also offer a variety of ways for seniors to actively contribute to the community—helping out with Sunday school, bringing after-service treats, or attending bible study.
Signing up for a weekly class or workshop is a great way for seniors to combat isolation and promote overall wellness. Not only are classes an opportunity to make new social connections, but they allow seniors to pursue hobbies or interests that they may not have had time to explore before retirement. The benefits aren’t just social. Research shows that participating in lifelong learning helps prevent cognitive decline and decreases risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s. Local colleges often offer continuing education programs for adults of all ages, and most senior living communities also provide educational opportunities for residents.
Close to Home
If transportation or physical abilities limit excursions into the local community, there are still plenty of ways to get involved in social networks closer to home. Vista Prairie and other senior living communities provide numerous ways for seniors to get involved in their residential community. Book clubs, fitness classes, and decision-making committees—there are endless ways to get involved.