It’s honestly so sad to think about the sheer amount of loneliness that the elderly face. In fact, those above the age of 65 tend to be more lonely than any other group. While there are so many reasons for this, such as the death of friends, anxiety, health decline, and deafness, the list could honestly keep going on and on. So when it comes to getting seniors social, is it actually easy? Fortunately, yes, it can be busy. Whether they’re living alone or even an assisted living for older adults, it’s honestly possible for them to come out of their shells and be the social butterflies they need to be. So, here is everything you need to know about keeping your senior loved ones completely social.
Start With a Fitness Class
Honestly, you can never go wrong with this! These can include classes like yoga, dancing, or water aerobics. The group setting allows them to meet other people who share a passion for the same activity, and they can get a feel for their physical abilities in a friendly environment. Plus, seniors need to stay physically active anyways to help fight back against cardiovascular disease as well as feel better mentally. Overall, more pros than cons when doing this. Plus, there are so many different types of fitness classes, whether it be at a local gym, a club, or even a facility. But generally speaking, there are some for seniors who have little to no experience with fitness as well as some for those who are physically in shape.
Consider Video Games
While this honestly sounds super odd, it is technically a way to get social, albeit a bit controversial. There is this stigma that video game communities, particularly online, can be harmful. Some people like to bully others, regardless of age. So technically, this could backfire on your senior loved one. But there is still the potential to find a good community out there and strictly just play with those. There are even seniors who play World of Warcraft together, but even something like the Sims or even Animal Crossing could be good, too, if you’re open to playing with NPCs.
Video games are an interactive way to engage with the world and make new friends. They can even teach beneficial lessons. Many games are instructional by design and cover topics such as history, cooking, politics, chemistry, architecture, and other areas of learning. However, video games have been criticized for desensitizing players to violence and antisocial behavior. It’s a “hot potato” because there are positives and negatives to video games, they can be great for socializing, but you need to be careful.
Online Social Platforms
Many seniors are using online social platforms to connect with friends and family. They also use them to stay informed on news and events in their area. In addition, they can play games, watch video clips on YouTube, and participate in online groups and communities. Social media has been proven to be an effective way to socialize seniors, especially those who are living alone and want to keep in touch with old friends. Some senior centers even offer a social media class.
One of the most popular social media platforms is Facebook. It is easy to set up and offers a variety of features that allow seniors to interact with others in their community. For example, Facebook allows seniors to create and join communities that interest them. It also offers suggestions based on their interests. You’ll even find that some seniors have a community online that they’ve built themselves, whether it be a blog, YouTube Channel, Facebook Group, Twitch, TikTok, or even a Forum. It’s honestly so amazing! Just be sure they’re not on their devices too often, as it’s not, particularly a healthy activity.
If you’ve ever volunteered, then you may have noticed it’s often elderly people that help or take charge of these charities or organizations, right? Well, that’s because this is one of the best ways for seniors to stay social. Not only is it a good way to keep active, but it also helps bridge the generation gap and provide a sense of purpose for older adults. Many local community centers have programs for seniors to take a class, exercise, play games and even have lunch with their peers. These types of activities provide structure and a sense of community for seniors who have been used to the structure, productivity, and interaction that come with a work schedule.
Who doesn’t love the sweet innocence of an animal? Pets can be social lubricants for their owners, helping them to start and maintain new friendships. Many seniors who own pets are less likely to feel lonely. Pets can also provide their owner with a sense of responsibility and purpose that is often lacking in people who live alone. Walking a dog, for instance, can be an effective way to get exercise and fresh air. Even a small cat or caged bird can offer mental stimulation for someone who needs to focus on the present moment.
Caring for an animal can also encourage playfulness and laughter, which is good for overall health. If your loved one is unsure about caring for a large animal, such as a dog, they can still experience the benefits of pets by volunteering at a local animal shelter or visiting pet-friendly stores.
Social events come in a large variety of forms, such as local events, those from organizations (government included), and even religious-oriented events. If they’re in a nursing home or facility, chances are, there are going to be different events too. Whether they live at home or in a senior living facility, seniors should be encouraged to participate in social events. This can help them delve into new friendships and experience things they wouldn’t otherwise be able to do. It also helps bolster their self-esteem and general happiness. Socially active adults also have stronger immune systems too.
Regular social activities can also improve their cognitive function, ward off depression and reduce their risk of dementia. This is because social interaction helps keep the brain stimulated and sharp, which can prevent mental decline. If your loved one is hesitant to participate in organized social pursuits, try encouraging them to join online platforms that bring people together who share similar interests, like book clubs and movie nights. Just make sure to find ways to get them out there and keep them social.
Consider Getting Them to Work
This is all going to depend on them, their schedule, their health, their benefits, and even if this is something that they want to do. A lot of elders have no choice but to retire early only for the sole purpose that they are not healthy enough to even work. But if your elderly loved one is in good health and just chose to retire at the right age or earlier, then maybe they can get a job. Having regular, organized social interactions helps to ward off feelings of isolation. It’s also important to keep cognitive function healthy, and studies show that seniors who have a social network experience better mental health outcomes than those who don’t.
Consider helping your elderly loved one find group activities in the community that focus on their interests. For example, if they love animals, they may enjoy taking dogs on walks at the local dog park. If they’re more mobile, working in industry sports like bowling or golf can be fun ways to meet people while getting exercise. Alternatively, they could maybe even own a business as well.
Jessi is the creative mind behind The Coffee Mom, a popular blog that combines parenting advice, travel tips, and a love for all things Disney. As a trusted Disney influencer and passionate storyteller, Jessi’s authentic insights and relatable content resonate with readers worldwide.