Loneliness and isolation are more common as we grow older. A decreasing social circle, being out of the workforce, and mobility challenges are just a few contributing factors. Research is clear about the health risks linked to senior isolation. Some experts go as far as to liken these dangers to those associated with smoking and obesity.

Socially isolated older adults are at higher risk for:

  • Depression
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Dementia
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Premature death

So, what can you do to prevent spending too much time alone? We have a few suggestions.

Combatting Isolation in Older Adults

  • Explore transportation options: If you only drive for necessary outings and avoid asking loved ones for rides, you might be spending more time at home. A couple of avenues to explore are ride-sharing services and senior transportation companies. Check with your local senior center or agency on aging to see if they are aware of any local options. Many maintain lists of reliable transportation providers who cater to older adults.
  • Volunteer your time: Another way to prevent isolation as you grow older is to volunteer for a local nonprofit organization. You’ll likely find a variety of opportunities close to home. Some may even offer transportation to and from their office. Check with your favorite organizations to see if they need volunteers or call the closest United Way office for suggestions. If in-person volunteering isn’t possible, you’ll likely still benefit from connecting with a virtual project. This article can help you find one.
  • Adopt a senior pet: Depending upon your situation and budget, you might find adopting an older dog or cat can help boost the spirit and prevent loneliness. Check with a local animal shelter to see what older animals are looking for a forever home. Younger adults and families with young children typically don’t rescue senior pets. That means older animals often spend longer amounts of time in shelters.
  • Explore senior centers and clubs: It’s common for older adults to find their social circle decreasing over the years. One way to remedy that is by joining or participating in senior groups and organizations. If you aren’t aware of any in your neighborhood, start by searching online for senior centers and senior fitness clubs. For those who belong to a religious institution, call and ask if they have any retiree groups.
  • Consider moving to senior living: One more solution to combat isolation and its associated health risks is moving to a senior living community. These communities are designed to promote connection and healthy aging. You’ll benefit from shared meals, daily life enrichment activities, and outings to nearby shopping centers, restaurants, and other popular destinations. Residents also find the daily informal gatherings that take place around the community to be a great way to develop new friendships.

Visit a Heritage Community This Summer

Summer is a great season to start your search for a senior living community. It will give you an opportunity to tour the community and take a stroll around the campus. Call the location nearest you to set up a time!