“We need to become activists in promoting healthful behaviors and try our best to remain active and healthy the rest of our lives.” (Arthur Hayward, MD, Geriatrician and clinical lead physician for Kaiser Permanente.)
Loneliness and social isolation can lead to poor health, an increased number of falls and dementia.
Tips for Health:
Regular health screenings
Medicare provides annual wellness visits. Women need a mammogram regularly after the age of 40. Men need to be checked for prostate cancer. Seniors don’t hear or see as well as they should; undiagnosed or untreated hearing problems make communication difficult.
Purpose in life
Hobbies such as volunteer work at a food pantry, church, animal shelter or making sweaters for drug addicted babies are ways to stay busy. Many seniors benefit from learning new games or artistic outlets, such as bridge, bingo, or painting.
Schedule lunch and fun events with family and friends. Regular exercise, yoga, or meditation are other ways to keep stress at bay. An active person has a healthy mind.
Pets provide a social aspect to one’s day. Nurturing a dog or cat relieves feelings of social isolation. Walking the dog is good not only for the pet but provides activity and purpose to the owner. Studies have shown that seniors who have a pet companion tend to be healthier.
When adequate transportation doesn’t exist, there is social isolation. Start with short rides on public transportation. See if your town has arrangements with the local taxi company for discounted rides. Also, ridesharing services such as Uber are available.
Teach seniors to use the computer and social media for keeping in contact with friends and family or playing games. They may enjoy texting on their phone.
Support seniors who have lost a spouse
Provide extra emotional and social support for seniors who have lost their mates. Spend time with them by going to the movies, a restaurant, and including them in family events.
Don’t count out sexual intimacy — there is no reason to limit sexual enjoyments. Even the smallest amount of contact is beneficial, such as friendly hugs as you’re greeting or farewell.
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