Everyone enjoys some solitary time now and then, but what if that “me time” stretched out for days, weeks, months, or even longer? The truth is, social connections keep us engaged and healthy, and are so crucial to those who spend a great deal of time alone.
For seniors, isolation is, unfortunately, often a common part of life. Many older adults have lost spouses or have children and other loved ones who live far away and cannot easily visit regularly. Others are homebound as a result of an injury or illness, or are unable to drive to visit friends and family, opening them up to loneliness and depression and increasing the risk for health problems.
Isolation is linked to devastating health issues, such as cardiovascular disease, cognitive decline, stroke, depression, and more. According to PLOS Medicine, isolated seniors are twice as likely to experience premature death than those with strong social ties. So what can home care agencies do to help protect their clients from social isolation?
Engage – Encourage – Enlighten
- Engage: The monotony of being home alone around the clock can be very depressing. Come up with ways to engage with the senior when leaving home is not an option. Play cards and games, read books aloud, enjoy music together, look for a craft or recipe you can make together, create a small indoor garden. Social media is also a great way to help older adults stay in touch with loved ones. Teach your senior clients how to use Facebook and Skype so they can maintain social connections.
- Encourage: Ongoing social isolation can become a habit, and after a period of time, some seniors may resist going out or even inviting others over to visit. Caregivers should provide gentle encouragement to help the older adult push past reservations and bring to mind how good it feels to engage with others. Begin slowly and spend time talking with the senior one on one at home, and then work up to a weekly scheduled outing. Encourage a trip to the local senior center or a church activity, and continue to encourage the senior’s loved ones to call and visit as often as possible.
- Enlighten: Adult children of elderly parents are often extremely busy, between work, children, and home life, and a visit to Mom’s house can get pushed to the back burner. Caregivers can enlighten and educate families about the dangers that isolation can have on their senior loved ones. Provide them with tips that will allow them to incorporate social interaction with their loved ones into their busy lives.
At MOST, we’re always happy to share marketing strategies for home care agencies such as these to improve the level of service provided and to make sure they’re at the forefront of their target audience’s minds at all times. Contact us by calling our home care marketing experts at 800.370.6580, x3 to learn more!