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The topic of isolation and how it impacts older adults has garnered a great deal of research over the past decade. From studies conducted at the National Institute on Aging at NIH to a special report created by the Administration for Community Living and the Administration on Aging, science repeatedly demonstrates the dangers of being socially isolated as you grow older.
Health Risks of Isolation for Older Adults
Being isolated from friends, family, and community impacts a senior’s mental, emotional, and physical well-being. So much, in fact, that isolation is classified as a health risk for seniors.
Isolation can increase an older adult’s risk for a variety of medical conditions. Here are a few examples:
Socially isolated seniors often have a shorter life span than their peers who stay engaged and active. If you or an older adult in your family is at risk for isolation, it’s essential to take steps to prevent it.
3 Ways to Overcome Isolation during Retirement
1. Explore local transportation services.
A common issue older adults cite for why they’ve become disconnected from friends and community is a lack of transportation. Some seniors limit their driving to medical appointments and emergencies, or scale back on driving during winter months. Others have hung up their car keys for good.
If you are a senior or the adult child of one, exploring alternative options for transportation may be the key to reconnecting. From health vans to volunteer drivers, your local Agency on Aging can be a good resource for helping you locate transportation providers nearby.
2. Find ways to build your social circle.
Many friendships are linked to sharing a work environment. Once a senior retires, maintaining those bonds can become a challenge. Also, as we age, friends may move away, sometimes to be nearer to adult children and grandchildren.
Most towns have organizations and social clubs for seniors. Exploring what those are and joining is one of the best ways to engage in your local neighborhood or city.
3. Consider moving to a senior living community.
Isolation is sometimes the result of close friends relocating or passing away. Mobility challenges may also limit a senior’s ability to stay connected. This may happen so gradually an older adult doesn’t realize how much their social circle has diminished. After moving to a senior living community and expanding their circle of friends, new residents may realize that they were in fact isolated beforehand. New residents often share similar life experiences with existing residents, which can help them quickly form meaningful connections.
Senior living communities foster an environment that gives residents a chance to bond in both formal and informal ways. Events and activities are available throughout the day. They range from fitness classes and wellness programs to art workshops, religious services, and book clubs. Enjoying a cup of coffee in the lounge or sharing a seat on the community’s bus en route to the local shopping center are just a few examples of the informal chances for bonding.
One of the top ways that residents enjoy each other’s company in senior living communities is by sharing meals together. Many communities offer healthy, delicious meals in a variety of settings, ranging from casual bistros to formal dining rooms. And, holidays are often marked with celebratory meals at the community that bring residents together with family and friends.
Live With Purpose™ at Sunrise
At Sunrise Senior Living communities, residents benefit from our Live With Purpose™ programming. This holistic approach to wellness focuses on nurturing the body, mind, and spirit. Our article, How Seniors Can Overcome Hesitations and Make a Successful Transition to Assisted Living, highlights examples of residents who say they wished they’d make a move to senior living earlier.
We invite you to learn more about Sunrise by calling 800-934-0139 to schedule a tour of the community nearest you today!