The risk of isolation increases as we age. The daily interactions we once took for granted become challenging due to the loss of loved ones, physical challenges, and transportation issues. Now, more than ever with COVID-19, we are seeing the stark results of isolation. Seniors who are isolated are at greater risk for depression, anxiety, and even suicide.
Symptoms of isolation include:
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, or making decisions
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Irritability or restlessness
- Loss of interest in enjoyable activities
- Changes in appetite
- New aches and pains disproportionate to current physical condition
- Misuse of alcohol, prescription medication, or other substances
- Excessive talk about death and/or suicide
If you believe your loved one is suffering from isolation and its effects, the first step is to talk to a physician to see if there are any underlying medical conditions. Here are some immediate steps that can help:
Adopt a pet– Pets provide unconditional love and offer seniors companionship and a sense of daily purpose.
Provide transportation– Many seniors no longer drive and may feel a burden asking for family and friends to help with rides. A senior care service may provide transportation for things like doctor’s appointments and shopping, and is a great way to get people out of their home.
Promote enjoyable activities– Help a loved one create a daily leisure calendar. We often forget that leisure is a daily healthy habit of engaging in life (no different than going to see the doctor when one is sick). Does your loved one enjoy crossword or jigsaw puzzles of varying levels? Simple walks in the neighborhood to get fresh air or to connect with nature are refreshing. If your loved one has a computer, he or she can enjoy free virtual tours around the world, travel to a museum, or watch animals at the zoo. They can also read free books online and even enjoy Skype dinner nights eating together. The possibilities for leisure and recreation are endless!
Adult Day Services: There are three types of adult day centers: social (which provide meals, recreation, and some health-related services), medical/social (which provide social activities as well as more intensive health and therapeutic services), and specialized (which provide services to specific care recipients such as those with diagnosed dementia or developmental disabilities). A typical day at an adult day center can include door-to-door transportation, meals, and snacks, personal care including toileting, grooming, and other personal activities of daily living, therapeutic activities, and of course, socialization.
These are just a few ways to help ease isolation among seniors. For more information on how The Susan J. Rheem Adult Day Center (SJRC) can assist you in preventing isolation, call 928-775-3563 or visit www.adultcareservices.org.
Article submitted by Yvonne Napolitano, MHA, CTRS, Executive Director of Adult Care Services which includes The Margaret T. Morris Center and The Susan J. Rheem Adult Day Center.