Social isolation isn’t specific to any age demographic, but it is more difficult to maintain a positive social life as you age. Health effects, both physical and mental, start to take their toll. While the average national life expectancy rises, many seniors live in assisted care facilities with many of their friends and same-aged relatives having already passed, or falling into similar health issues themselves. So the question remains: how does this impact seniors?
Technology Connects and Divides
It’s 2017—we’re all connected to each other through social media, text messaging, or email at the absolute least. We talk to friends that we don’t physically see in person for years at a time. One day, the younger generation will be in the same shoes as the current elder population, bent on technology and able to connect a little bit easier. But the fact is, nowadays, seniors are not utilizing social media—loneliness is much more simple to suffer from now than ever before. When a vast majority of the population is connecting through alternate means, you get left behind. How do we fix this?
Crafting Brand New Opportunity
Assisted care facilities often fall short on proper programs for seniors to get involved in. Even when just socializing between other seniors in the facility, there are still numerous benefits to reap. Loneliness is linked to early death and increased levels of depression. Isolation is detrimental to mental health, which in turn can be just as damaging to physical health. It isn’t enough to simply bring up opportunities; seniors suffering from loneliness may already be accepting a false fact that they have to go the rest of life alone. It’s important to coach them into social situations and brings those situations to them.
What We Can All Do
Believe it or not, there are things that can be done to prevent or reverse these negative effects. Creating connections, whether it’s in terms of assisted living-exterior events to attend, colluding with residents from other assisted living centers (think of it as a collaborative effort from two separate centers), or volunteering your time.
Community, and the sense that’s supposed to come with it, is digitalized. While it may appear to have been here forever, and to some of you reading this, it may have actually been around since before you were born, digitalizing communities is still in its infancy. While the effects can be far spread, there’s no positive impact on the elderly community as of this time. In person interactions and attentiveness can decrease the need for seniors to isolate themselves, and in turn, increase senior living situations in ways that become visible almost immediately.