Reducing loneliness for Seniors
Many seniors spend the majority of their time at home due to a variety of reasons such as disabilities, lack of transportation or having no one to share time/interests with on a regular basis. Being home bound, even for a short period of time can lead to feelings of isolation, depression and loneliness. While loneliness is normal, it doesn’t have to be permanent. Humans are social creatures who like to have others around to talk to and interact with (even if we don’t always behave that way). By taking advantage of community programs and activities outside the home, seniors can reduce their loneliness and increase their quality of life.
Even seniors who are home bound due to a disability, can still enjoy new social opportunities via the internet. One-on-one conversations through e-mail, instant messaging, and online phone calls combined with webcams can help individual connect. Pictures, short movies and live images can be shared easily, diminishing distances between family members and friends and reducing feelings of loneliness.
Online seminars are also available from colleges, museums and libraries. Seniors can take travel tours, learn about sculpture, or discuss poetry or history without ever having to leave their home. Such activities have a double benefit — they reduce feelings of loneliness by meeting new classmates, and they provide new mental stimulation.
Even diving back into the job pool (or volunteer pool) from home is an option as many businesses are taking advantage of technology that allows people to work from home. In fact, people can work from almost anywhere, as long as they have access to a computer or a telephone.
Volunteering outside the home is also an option for many seniors. Seniors have a wealth of knowledge that many organizations so desperately need. Sharing their knowledge and experience with others, whether for a short term or ongoing project, helps seniors build relationships and self esteem.
Inviting people to your home is obviously an idea to consider for many. In today’s hectic life, neighbors, family members and acquaintances are always looking for help. As possible, offering to sit for a child or pet can bring great joy and satisfaction to a senior.
Based on a senior’s interests and ability, offering their home as a meeting place for a book club, charity group or other social network can be a great way to connect with others. Perhaps a senior may want to consider hosting a regular “pitch in” meal and food is a great “bonding” tool. Everyone likes to eat and sitting around a table over a good meal allows for ample topics of conversation.
Being at home doesn’t have to be an isolating experience that increases feelings of loneliness. There are many ways to share yourself and stay involved with others. Check with your library for resources, or call local government agencies and schools. It may take a little effort, but you may be pleasantly surprised at what you find. New opportunities can lead to interesting and engaging activities for a better quality of life for seniors.