Choosing to age at home is a common and achievable option for many seniors. Unfortunately, a common thread for older adults living alone is isolation. Feelings of isolation can lead to a decline in health which is linked to a shorter life expectancy. Seniors and their families can help prevent social withdrawal by keeping an active social calendar.
Social activities can be as simple as a casual lunch with a friend or a structured environment such as a community class, either as a student or a teacher. Volunteering gives seniors the opportunity to be around others and to promote healthy feelings for participating and giving back to their communities. Websites such as volunteermatch.org offer opportunities for single events and longer commitments.
Regular workouts (with doctor’s approval) can help keep both the body and mind healthy. Exercise causes a physical reaction in the body that can help to fight depression and feelings of isolation. Dancing, yoga and simple stretching exercises can be weaved into daily routines to help provide variety and consistency. Enrolling in a swimming or water aerobics class allows a senior with limited mobility the chance to exercise without fear of injury.
Transportation is a key factor for many seniors who no longer drive or have mobility issues. Alternatives can include rides from family members and friends, caregiver services, as well as a public transportation system. Many areas offer discounted rides or senior specific transportation.
While at home, seniors can catch up with long distance family members and friends through social media, keep up on current events through digital newspapers and magazines and improve cognitive skills through online games. Local colleges, community centers and even some computer stores offer classes to teach the basics of connecting online.
Knowing the triggers and signs of isolation, creating a routine of regular activity and having a good support system can help a senior continue to age at home in a healthy environment.