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Promoting Social Well-Being: 8 Key Techniques for Addressing Loneliness in Older Adults

Updated: Jun 21, 2023

Loneliness is not the same as being alone.

Loneliness is the perception of being alone, and not everyone experiences it the same way- some people are quite content with few social interactions and are not considered lonely, whereas others need frequent engagement. Many people are surprised to learn that living alone is not a predictor of loneliness - ⅔ of older adults who report feeling lonely live with a spouse or partner.

Loneliness is a serious matter.

Recently the U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy released Our Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation 2023, an advisory to draw attention to loneliness, isolation, and disconnection. Although approximately half of all U.S. adults experience loneliness, older adults and people with disabilities are still among those with the highest prevalence.

8 steps you can take to reduce the risk of social isolation in older adults

  1. Encourage regular hearing and vision exams. People with undiagnosed or untreated hearing and vision problems may avoid social situations because of difficulty communicating or feelings of embarrassment or fear. The use of hearing and vision aids can help people feel more comfortable interacting with others and going out in public places.

  2. Improve 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.

  3. Find others who share a common interest or learn something new. ​​Educational and learning opportunities, neighborhood and civic groups, book and hobby clubs, religious groups - the options are endless and available in-person or online.

  4. Promote physical activity. Staying active has a number of benefits including reducing isolation. Suggest joining an exercise group, identify someone to walk with, or hire a personal trainer. With online programs, people can participate from the comfort of their own homes.

  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 to older adults.

  6. Create a social calendar and make an activity list. Identify family members, friends, and neighbors who can call, visit, share a meal, or go out on a regular basis. Create a list of activities, hobbies, and outings to make it easy to find something to do with others.

  7. Explore community programs. You might not have to go far - community centers, day programs, non-profit agencies, libraries, and community colleges provide a range of activities for people of all ages.

  8. Be open to technology. Whether it’s finding an easy-to-use tablet, using a virtual assistant or engaging in online activities, technology can connect older adults to a world beyond their home.

Start with just one or two of these - those that best fit with your loved one's interests. And remember that you don’t have to do it alone - Mellie is here for you. We can help you find activities and programs like the ones listed above. Contact us to learn how we can help.


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