It was not that long ago that people were isolating from each other to protect against spreading COVID-19. Seniors were especially vulnerable, so additional precautions were taken to keep them safe. Yet although this became the new norm out of necessity, the dangers of a solitary lifestyle for seniors are significant.
Social frailty, also called social vulnerability, is more common than both physical and cognitive frailty combined, according to a recently available research study. Those who are socially frail can feel abandoned, devalued, and anxious about who to turn to in a time of need. Social frailty is also associated with poor health outcomes – meaning it’s important for physicians to screen for it during regular examinations.
How Can You Determine if a Senior Is at Risk for Social Frailty?
A geriatrician will know to screen for social vulnerability. If a senior loved one sees a general practice physician, however, you can ask them to use the Social Frailty Index to determine risk. This includes regularly assessing the person’s level of loneliness and social isolation, obstacles to transportation, access to internet services, and more.
You can start by asking an older loved one to self-assess their social vulnerability by honestly answering the following five questions:
- Are you going out less often now than you did a year ago?
- Are you living alone?
- Do you spend time visiting with family and friends?
- Do you feel as though you’re helpful to your friends and family?
Are you speaking with someone each day?
With these answers in hand as well as the physician’s recommendations, you can help an older loved one adjust their lifestyle to incorporate more time for socializing. Try:
- Scheduling regular visits, and when possible, outings with the person. Take them out for coffee, to the library, museums, or window shopping. Or spend quality time at home together, looking through photo albums and reminiscing, making favorite recipes together, and gleaning any advice and wisdom they have to share.
- Research local senior centers and classes specifically geared towards older adults. Speak with the person regarding what could be fun to try: bingo night, aerobics, learning a new language, volunteering, etc.
- Work together to create a list of family members, friends, and neighbors the person has not been in contact with as much as they might like. Reach out to these people to arrange for visits and get-togethers.
Home Sweet Home In-Home Care offers another excellent solution: highly trained and pleasant in-home caregiving companions. We offer opportunities for conversations, reminiscing, fun activities and outings, and so much more. Contact us at (866) 229-2505 for a complimentary in-home consultation today!