Barbara Fradkin – FLORIDA TODAY
Q: My Dad lives by himself and needs some socialization. What can we do?
A: I get asked a lot about the benefits of socialization by the families of seniors. It’s sad to say, but elders who experience the loneliness of isolation have more physical ailments. This includes mobility issues and (most importantly) cognitive decline.
As people get older, they tend to become less active. Over time, seniors can settle into increasingly sedentary routines. Many may find it easier to watch TV alone than to go out with friends or enroll in an exercise group. These adults should pay attention to their activity levels now— or suffer the health consequences.
A healthy social life is very important for seniors. The need for companionship, love and support does not diminish as we grow older. Healthy relationships are necessary at every age! Regular social interaction helps keep us mentally, emotionally and even physically fit. It reduces the risk of depression, decreases anxiety, and helps maintain self-esteem. High levels of socialization in seniors can even positively influence longevity.
So what can seniors do to get active? There are many forms of social activity tailored for seniors, from technology-focused connections to outings and happy hours. My brother-in-law always says to me, “Don’t retire until you have a hobby. You need to keep yourself physically and mentally busy.” So, I found a hobby, but I am too busy working to enjoy it! For those already retired, here are some suggestions from The Experts in Aging at One Senior Place.
- Join an exercise class or walking group
- Swimming or water aerobics classes
- Hire a companion (if you live alone) and go out to lunch weekly
- Check out the activities at your local senior center
- Volunteer at the Zoo, library or hospice
- Join a book club, travel club or social club
- Take sewing, cooking or art lessons
- Enroll in a math class or adult enrichment course
What about a part-time job? Doing something you like will allow you to meet people AND get some extra income. For those living alone, it can be very comforting to once again be around others. And if you’re considering a move to a senior community, you’ll find that many offer an amazing array of social activities, day trips and amenities like pools and restaurant style dining.
Here’s an oldie but a goodie: “Add years to your life by adding life to your years.” It’s true! Now get off the couch and do something fun. Need more suggestions? Call me at 321-751-6771.
One Senior Place is a marketplace for resources and provider of information, advice, care and on-site services for seniors and their families. Questions for this column are answered by professionals in nursing, social work, care management and in-home care. Send questions to askOSP@OneSeniorPlace.com, call 321-751-6771 or visit One Senior Place, The Experts in Aging.
Barbara Fradkin is a Social Worker and a Certified Care Manager for One Senior Place in Viera.