We get calls often from concerned adults who are worried about their mom or dad. “My dad just won’t leave the house,” said Jane. “He used to never miss Wednesday lunch with his buddies, but since his friend Al died, he just isn’t interested in talking with anyone.”
Isolation is not uncommon for people as they age. It may begin with the loss of a friend or spouse, compounded by a physical situation, such as a change in hearing or vision. In the case of Jane’s dad, he was grieving the loss of a long-time friend.
Staying inside more frequently, turning down invites and even refusing to leave the home can put your father at risk of emotional distress, depression and anxiety. Studies show a lack of interaction can lead to cognitive decline. The mind is stimulated, challenged and sharp when it is engaged through conversation and companionship.
“Social contact is fundamental to our human existence,” said Dr. Teri Tift, executive director of quality and compliance. “We have seen isolation lead to serious illness and a shorter lifespan.”
Here are 4 tips to try to help protect your parent from loneliness. If you are truly concerned right now, don’t hesitate to call our information and assistance line at 866-eskaton, or call your doctor right away.
- Call Dad more often. Even if you’re used to calling your parent on a regular basis, it’s time to increase the frequency. It will help decrease the feeling of loneliness.
- Go see your Dad in person. Not only is it better than a call because you can see what is going on, it is best for your father to see you and get a hug from you. If distance and time make this a challenge, consider a video call such as Skype or Facetime. Your parent isn’t too old to learn a simple technology that will make a huge impact in his or her life.
If you are uncomfortable sitting around the house with your mom or dad, get out of the house. Restaurants, plays and community events are best enjoyed with company. Start with things that have been favorite events in the past.
- If you live a far distance away, consider a home support service. Experienced professionals can match your father’s needs to community resources for improved socialization. They can find activities and work out logistics, along with providing support for any health care needs. Start with a geriatric care manager who will visit and assess your parent. Learn more at LiveWellatHome.com and schedule your visit today.
- Check out senior living communities. This can be a good opportunity to experience and enjoy entertainment and social games while connecting and making friends in a community setting. If he is hesitant, join him during the visits. Begin the discussion of the lifestyle he could gain from being part of a senior living community.
Providing the support he needs to make connections can be the first step toward helping your father gain a more fulfilled and purposeful life.
Eskaton provides a variety of Signature Programs focused on creating unique opportunities for the well-being of its many residents. From intergenerational programs to life enrichment initiatives, Eskaton encourages social connectivity with friends and family.
FOR A COMPLETE CHECKLIST OF SIGNS, PLEASE VISIT ESKATON.ORG/SIGNS TO REQUEST YOUR FREE COPY.