Protecting an Elderly Loved One

Two Ways Assisted Living Can Help Battle Loneliness

by Margie Adams

About 28 percent of seniors live alone. Since social isolation is associated with increased mortality rates in people who report feeling lonely, helping seniors stay connected to others is critical to their health and well-being. Here are two ways assisted living can help battle loneliness in older folks.

Close Quarters Encourage Engagement

While aging in place may sound like a great idea—after all, the senior gets to stay in the home they know and love—it can actually be very problematic if the person is cut off from others. Not only does that put them at a higher risk of suffering accidents, but lonely people are more likely to develop Alzheimer's and similar diseases, possibly due to the lack of mental stimulation.

By the very nature of their setup, assisted living facilities help reduce loneliness by making it easier for people to interact with each other. Although everyone has their own apartment, finding someone to talk to is a matter of walking through the front door.

They can go to their neighbor's home—of have the neighbor visit them—and the community typically has areas where residents can sit or meander and engage one another. Since everyone is around the same age, they're more likely to have things in common they can bond over.

This differs from communities with single-family homes or even regular apartments where neighbors may not be so accessible due to work habits, physical distance, or age differences. So, while your loved one may prefer to stay in their home, you should consider whether they'll get the stimulation they need there to remain mentally and physically healthy.

On-Site Social and Recreational Events

Sometimes seniors become isolated because they're unable to travel anywhere for social or recreational purposes. It's not unusual for seniors to lose the ability to drive, and public transportation is not always available.

Senior living facilities understand this is the case, and typically ensure there are things for their residents to do on-site. For example, they may have a pool and game room. Some teach informational classes, such has how to use a computer, and others have clubs that seniors can join and meet people who like the same things they do.

Additionally, it's common for assisted living facilities to arrange field trips to areas of interest, such as the zoo or local bingo hall.

If you're concerned your loved one may become lonely in old age, convincing them to move into an assisted living facility may be the key to avoiding that outcome. To learn more about assisted living, contact a resident manager near you.