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Addressing Social Isolation

Older adults are inherently at risk for isolation due to the changes in health and social connections that occur with aging, making it a serious concern that should be addressed.  Social isolation and loneliness are associated with higher risks of numerous physical and mental health conditions. Studies have shown that socially isolated older adults are also more likely to be admitted to the emergency room or a nursing home.


Review these tips for staying socially connected to others. 

Address Changes Related to Aging

Hearing and Vision:  People with undiagnosed or untreated hearing and vision problems may avoid social situations because of difficulty communicating or feelings of embarrassment or fear.  

  • Regular hearing and vision exams and the use of hearing and vision aids can help people feel more comfortable interacting with others and going out in public places.

Mobility and Transportation: Giving up driving, lack of accessible transportation, and uncertainty about whether a location has stairs or requires much walking can impact someone’s willingness to go out.

  • Identifying venues that are easily accessible, finding the right assistive devices to assist with mobility, and locating alternative transportation options can help overcome these barriers.  

Cognition and Memory: Caregivers of people with dementia may feel embarrassed taking their loved ones out or may find it  too difficult to manage. People with mild cognitive impairment may fear getting lost or confused; whereas friends may not know how to interact with someone with dementia.

  • Many communities have specific social programs for people with dementia and their caregivers.  Technology tools can also be of great assistance. 


Stay Connected

  1. Promote a Sense of Purpose: Find something new to learn, renew interest in a past hobby,  identify an enjoyable activity that can be done with others or in a communal space, or join a community group.

  2. Make Use of Assistive Technology: From hearing aids to walkers to video calling, assistive aids exist for many situations. Learn more

  3. Create a Social Calendar: Identify family members, friends, and neighbors who can call, visit, share a meal, or go out on a regular basis. Make it intergenerational by including younger people.   

  4. Make an Activity List: Create a list of activities, hobbies, outings, games, and topics of interest so that it is easier to find something to do with others.

  5. Look Into Volunteer Programs: Put skills and interests to good use by volunteering for a community agency or find a volunteer program that provides visits or calls. 

  6. Stay Physically Active: Join an exercise group, identify someone to walk with, or hire a personal trainer. 

  7. Encourage Attendance at Faith-Based Organizations: If attending services has become difficult, inquire about home visiting and special programs. 

  8. Explore the Community: Community centers, neighborhood groups, non-profit agencies, libraries, and community colleges are examples of places that may offer programs of interest. 

  9. Consider Pet Therapy: Animals are not just a source of comfort; they also lower stress.  Asides from adopting a pet, many shelters welcome visitors or have pet visitor programs.  Inquire with friends and neighbors about spending time with their pets. 

  10.  Seek Assistance: Speak to your physician or a counselor about feelings of grief or loneliness.

Mellie is available to help you in identifying your local resources. 

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