Ending social isolation is the big ticket event in the seniors sector at the moment. Isolation is the new smoking – it’s bad for you! It’s as simple as that.
When we get isolated – we stop moving around as much, we stop having as many conversations and our world gets smaller. Our minds and body needs friendship and without we it we don’t thrive. Our health can decline as quickly as our friendly connections can.
It’s why I started Edmonton55 – to help end or at least minimize social isolation. It’s easy to say there was nothing to do today, or nothing that interested me today – but that becomes easy to say over and over again, and before you know it, you are isolated.
How do you know if someone is isolated?
I have families all the time say they visit their mother every day, so they aren’t lonely. What everyone forgets is that family is not the same as friends. Everyone needs friends in their age group or at least interested in the same hobbies to have conversations with. Seeing what your loved one has for social groups, peer groups and connections is most important indicator of social wellbeing.
5 ways to help prevent isolation
- Help friends visit at your home or go visit them. Work to eliminate barriers to transportation or accessibility to visiting someone.
- Make phone calls easy. Does your loved one have a phone with larger numbers, proper hearing aids to hear, an easy list of favorite phone numbers to keep in touch?
- Connect your loved one to a senior centre or other activity group
- Seniors Centre without Walls is a phone in seniors program that is gaining in popularity and easy to use.
- If taking a loved one out for dinner or to an event, see if there is a friend you can bring a long for them.
Isolation happens in the blink of an eye. It’s easy to turn down going out with friends because the stairs are too hard, or you don’t want to be seen with your walker or you just don’t feel like it today.
I challenge you to say ‘yes’ to every invitation. Starting today, say ‘yes’ to trying something new,. Most importantly, say ‘yes’ to an opportunity to meet a new friend. The laughter, the conversations, the getting out is what keeps us young at heart.
So go and take a look at the Edmonton55 Event Calendar and find an upcoming activity to try! When you go, please have a friendly conversation with someone new. It may just change the quality of your life and maybe theirs too.