15 Ways The Home Care Agency Combats Senior Loneliness

August 10, 2015

Eighty year old woman sitting in a wheelchairA 2012 study from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that social isolation and loneliness correlated with a higher risk of mortality in adults aged 52 and over. [i] The U.S. Census, too, found that 28% of seniors live alone and 43% of these report feeling lonely on a regular basis. Many studies report similar findings. And yet, when adult children talk to their senior loved ones, they don’t always get a clear picture of how the older relative is feeling.

Findings like those above should motivate senior caregivers and family members to put more effort into connecting with clients or loved ones and engaging with them in a meaningful way. As members of Tom Brokaw’s “Greatest Generation,” today’s seniors can be stoic. They may want to resist feeling like a burden and hesitate to reach out or disclose feelings of isolation or other issues.  

In home care providers can do much to curb the loneliness of those whose children may be out of state and whose friends have moved away or passed on. The in home care provider is not simply there to complete tasks and ensure safety of the client. Meaningfully engaging a senior in activities, socialization and things they enjoy are an essential part of an effective care plan. Home care agency owners and adult children that direct caregivers to incorporate these tasks into the daily routine do much more for the both the mental and physical well-being of the client.

You might direct the care provider or home care agency to assist the senior with:

  • walking in the neighborhood
  • encouraging the client to talk about experiences and interests
  • helping them volunteer or participate in community events
  • encouraging the grandchild-grandparent relationship [LINK to that post here]
  • organize visits from friends
  • facilitating communication between the patient, family members and the healthcare team, keeping interactions as positive and supportive as possible
  • helping the senior connect with singing, instrumental, photography and other groups nearby
  • join online groups and message boards that focus on hobbies the client enjoys
  • join social media channels like Facebook that keep seniors aware of what’s going on with family members
  • research and discover the senior centers, exercise groups and support groups in the area
  • helping the senior interact with nature either by setting up bird feeders, visiting parks and animal shelters or zoos and nature centers
  • attending a nearby exercise, yoga or swim aerobics class with the senior. (seniors who’ve had a recent fall may be reluctant to attempt these alone. The presence of the provider can make all the difference.)
  • encouraging the senior to teach him or her a skill, craft or dish
  • scheduling, facilitating and being on hand for visits from friends and family members, including reaching out to these people
  • scheduling lunches, card parties, viewing of athletic events with friends or other seniors
  • researching and attending support groups for chronic illness like Mended Hearts, for those managing heart disease.

Be sure to consult with your loved one’s regular physician regarding any limitations on activities and plan around recommendations they may have.

My Care Match Helps You Find the Ideal Companion

When you complete your profile with MyCareMatch.com, you can include your or your senior loved one’s personality traits, hobbies and preferences as well as their care needs. Chances are, several caregivers from either a home care agency or an independent personal care provider will have similar interests. After all, shared interests make for great visits and improves the opportunity for a successful caregiving relationship! Have a specific need or question? Feel free to leave a brief message here. We look forward to helping you find meaningful, life enriching care.

[i] Social isolation, loneliness, and all-cause mortality in older men and women U.S. National Academy of Sciences

 

About the Author

Doug Breuer is co-founder of MyCareMatch.com and has worked in senior care for the last 9 years for the State of Oregon. From investigating cases of elder abuse to managing the delivery of long term care to residents of Central Oregon, Doug has been involved in all aspects of senior care.

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