The senior citizens population is increasing across the US. As your parents age, they can start feeling lonely. For instance, a recent survey shows that more than half the seniors in Massachusetts aged 65 years and above live alone. Finding a great companion for them can be difficult.
If you’re looking for ways to improve companionship for your parents, this article is for you. We have suggestions to help senior citizens make new friends and enjoy their lives.
Encourage Social Activities
One way to improve companionship for seniors is to encourage social activities. This can be done in various ways, but it’s important not to force them out if they don’t want to leave the house. Instead, find activities they enjoy and make it easy for them to get there. For example, you can drive them or take public transportation together.
You should also encourage them not just with your words but also through actions. For instance, if you go out with family members, invite your elders so they feel included in what everyone else is doing.
Leverage In-Home Care Services
In-home care services are an excellent way to help seniors stay active and engaged and stay in their homes.
According to Always Best Care Senior Services, in-home care services will improve companionship and also provide medical care. For example, suppose you have a parent suffering from dementia who cannot live alone anymore. In that case, in-home care can provide the assistance they need while giving them the freedom to live in their home.
These services can help with daily tasks such as bathing, dressing, and preparing meals. They can also provide respite care for family caregivers like yourself so you can take breaks from caring for your loved ones.
Moreover, they also have a vast network of healthcare professionals caring for your loved ones. Let’s consider the same example of Massachusetts, where half the senior population lives alone.
Suppose your old-aged parent lives in a city like Worcester in Massachusetts. In that case, hiring in-home care services in Worcester will provide medical care with their network of local hospitals, social workers, etc. Thus, they will be prepared for any emergency medical situation.
There are many more benefits of hiring in-home care services. For instance, they can offer independence and familiarity, personalized care, peace of mind, reduced stress, etc. Due to such benefits, the home care services sector is worth $4.1 billion in Massachusetts, where many seniors are living alone.
Foster Family Bonds
Family bonds can play the most significant role in improving companionship for your senior parents. Here are some things family members can help with:
- Errands and chores. If your loved one needs assistance with their daily tasks, it’s often easier to rely on the help of family members. They better understand what they need and how they want things done. So, they may be able to do things faster than someone who doesn’t know them as well.
- Transportation. If your loved one has trouble driving, having someone else drive for them would give them more freedom in their day-to-day life.
- Housekeeping duties such as laundry, cleaning after meals, dusting, etc. Helping with such responsibilities will also enable you and your family to communicate regularly with your senior parents. This will ensure that your parents don’t feel alone and can talk with you.
Pets can be a great source of companionship and emotional support for seniors. Many seniors feel less lonely and isolated when they have a pet to keep them company. This is especially true if they don’t have family or friends nearby.
Pets also provide physical activity that can help increase muscle strength, improve balance and coordination, lower blood pressure, etc. These can all reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering cholesterol levels in the body.
If you’re considering bringing home a new companion for your aging parent, consider getting them a pet. Having a pet is very common in the US. According to recent statistics, at least 67% of American families had a pet in 2020.
Volunteering and Community Engagement
Volunteering is a great way to meet others, stay active and healthy, develop new skills, and feel connected to your community. You can encourage your parents to volunteer in many different ways.
Your parents might be able to help with an organization that has activities for seniors or participate in one of their programs. They could also find opportunities through local churches, synagogues, or even talking to their neighbors.
Volunteering is an excellent way for seniors who live alone or have limited mobility because it allows them to engage with others. And this is all done while doing something meaningful for themselves and others around them.
Encourage Them to Join Senior Living Communities
You can easily find several senior living communities in your locality. You can ask your family or friends around or do a Google search to find one.
Here’s how senior living communities can help your parents.
- Senior living communities are a great way to meet new people and be active. They offer various social activities, including trips to museums or concerts and cooking or art classes. Seniors can also use the pools and gyms available in these communities.
- Senior living communities offer medical services such as physical therapy and nursing care if needed. They can provide transportation to appointments, meals, snacks, housekeeping, laundry, etc.
Many senior living communities also have support groups, a great way to meet new people and connect with others with similar interests. They can also help your parents feel less isolated, which is especially important for seniors living alone or lonely.
If you’re interested in joining a support group, look for one that meets regularly, at least once a week. If there are fewer than five monthly meetings, the group isn’t meeting often enough to maintain its momentum. This will make it harder for members to attend regularly as time goes on.
Enroll Them for Intergenerational Programs
Intergenerational programs are great for seniors to stay active and healthy, make new friends, and pass on their wisdom.
If you’re interested in helping your parents get involved with an intergenerational program, look for opportunities at the local school or library. Your senior may also want to participate in activities like reading aloud at storytime or leading discussions about books with children.
Another option is joining an exercise class where older adults work out alongside younger people. Seniors can also teach younger folks valuable lessons while working out together, like how not to fall when doing sit-ups.
They can also help other elders who need help with what physical activities they should do. CDC recommends moderate-intensity activities for seniors at least 150 minutes a week. Helping with such physical activities can build strong relationships among seniors.
Communication and Active Listening
Communication and active listening are essential skills to learn when interacting with seniors. These skills help you understand the concerns of your seniors and make them feel heard.
For effective communication between you and your loved one, it’s important for both parties involved to have good listening skills. There are many ways this can be achieved:
- You can ask open-ended questions instead of yes or no questions so they feel their opinion matters. This also shows that you’re interested in what they have to say.
- If someone gets interrupted while talking, try not to jump back into talking about yourself again; wait until they finish before speaking. This shows respect for whoever was interrupted.
There are many ways to improve companionship for seniors. You can start by ensuring you spend enough time with them and encouraging friends and family members to visit more often. You can also try getting involved in activities or even taking trips together so they feel like they aren’t alone anymore.