The last couple of years have been fairly unprecedented with the pandemic. In many ways, what you might find is that it changed the lives of your senior relatives more than yours. It became increasingly challenging to maintain friendships or meet new people during the pandemic, and if your elderly relative is struggling to meet people and is feeling fairly isolated, then you might consider doing all that you can to help them get back out there and be more social. Older adults were considered the highest risk here in the pandemic which meant that they had to take social distancing measures much more extremely than others.
Many of the avenues for communication and connection were halted or altered and exercise for seniors was also stopped because group classes were not safe. For many individuals, getting older is a major challenge. Even before the pandemic, some individuals struggled with getting older and stepping into a life that meant new social challenges. With more restrictive movement, and fewer opportunities to get outside, people became within themselves and less out there in the world. This increase in social isolation was not easy to come out of since the pandemic ended, but there are some ways that you can help the seniors in your life to be more social.
- Get them involved in a book, TV or movie club. Sometimes it’s the art of conversation that is necessary for seniors to feel less excluded and more animated. There are plenty of options and nothing gets discussions going as fast as talking about something that they like. If they are into books, look at the local libraries or civic centers as you might find book clubs and gatherings there for seniors specifically at an easier time of day. If there are any clubs, you could look to see if one could be formed with the idea of social isolation being minimized for seniors.
- Think about gardening. To add purpose and to keep somebody busy, gardening can be a very great addition. Local coops and community gardens are really helpful to the local garden center or flower farm to see if there are any activities that they can join in with. Not only will they get to meet new people, they’ll be able to keep their hands busy and keep moving. Gardening is a very active hobby, so you’ll be able to help to keep their blood pressure lowered and their spirits up.
- Explore local support groups. Ryoran activity attached to it. Sometimes people just want some other people to talk to, and local support groups could be that exact thing that they need. Support groups can really help adults to understand their feelings of loneliness and help them to regain a sense of purpose.
- Teach them to use a computer. If the seniors in your life have no idea how to use a computer and they don’t know how to use a software, think about giving them a crash course in computing. They can use it to learn how to use email and live streaming options, and you could even get them involved in social media. Not only will this help them to see updated pictures and anecdotes of the grandchildren, they can connect with their own friends, to. There are plenty of platforms and gaming sites online that elderly people can join in with, and seniors will feel less isolated. There is also plenty of software and virtual activities that they can join in on to keep their brains engaged and their cognitive skills sharpened.
- Offer learning opportunities. Continuing education and lifelong learning courses are an excellent option if you are looking to help the seniors in your life to keep their minds sharp. They can stay engaged and meet new people, and there’s nothing like a study session to bond you with that. They may not necessarily be interested in learning straight away, but it’s a good way to encourage them to do more. The best part is that this doesn’t have to be academic. From learning to sew, to learning to sing, there are plenty of fun activities and learning opportunities out there. The seniors in your life could probably benefit from learning needlepoint and learning how to make pottery. There are community colleges and libraries out there as well as other organizations that can offer classes that are geared towards those over 65. Old does it mean dead!
- Encourage travel opportunities. There is research out there that has found that people want to travel as much as possible once they have retired. These holidays and trips do not have to be traditional, but there are active and adventure trips that involve hiking and biking and you’d be surprised how many are again towards seniors. Just because a person is old doesn’t mean that their life is over. Many people in their senior years want to explore as much as possible and see the sights that they never got a chance to see when they were young. You can encourage these travel opportunities and ensure that they understand that one of the biggest benefits of traveling is the social environment involved. Not only will they get to stay and potentially work along the way, seniors will find themselves around younger generations who are taking gap years at the beginning of their lives where seniors are looking at exploring towards the end of their lives. Not only will this help to reinforce that sense of community and connection, cross generational socialization is actually one of the best things that benefits us as human beings. The younger people can learn from the older people and the older people can learn from the younger people. It’s exciting to be able to do that.
- Join online social groups. To be more socialist to be online. There is so much more to being online than making a profile and liking other peoples pictures. They can take full advantage of all that social media has to offer, and it can be an excellent way for them to find people with similar interests to themselves. Facebook groups, online forums and more Google to make people feel welcome and loved. This is no different for the seniors in your life. They can even go online to be able to look for people from their past, so teaching them how to use social media sites and directory websites is actually a really good idea.
- Look up options for pen pals. There are so many incredible people out there, and pen pals aren’t just for children! Ask the seniors in your life to write letters to the younger generations in your family. Grandparents writing to grandchildren, all the aunts and uncles writing to their cousins in the family. It may not be something that you have considered before but you really should, because it’s a nice way for each end of the mortal coil to impart their wisdom and talk about their lives. If pen pals are not an option, ask the elderly in your life to consider journaling their experiences.
- Make a point of visiting more often. Going to see people who are elderly should be something you slot into your schedule if you have them in your life. Sometimes, if you want your relative to be more social you have to be the person to make that happen. Go and see them at least twice a week and spend time with them. Just like everybody else, conversation and fun, and you have the capacity to offer them that just by going to visit them at their home. Take them for dinner or lunch, go bowling or see a movie. Life doesn’t end just because they are at a senior age.
- Go to church. If the person in your life is at all religious, attending religious services whether online or in person is a great way to meet other people. Religion can be a very powerfully connecting force, and it’s another great way to find people who just like them. If they have a specific religion, then go to their place of worship and help them to meet other people that way. There are always discussion groups, social meetups and masses that people can enjoy together.
- Encourage them to meet people in person. They may call their friends over the phone a couple of times a week, but it might be easier for them to see their friends in person. It’s important to break that barrier and meet people once they’re feeling comfortable enough to do so, and even after a pandemic and being indoors, they will be able to do better for their friends if they are meeting up in person. They could go to many different things together and enjoy being in a community together, or they can simply just be in one another company while they are in comfortable silence. Either way, you can encourage the seniors in your life to feel amazing as a result.