Loneliness can be a significant contributing factor to the early onset of dementia and premature death amongst the aged.
One of the most critical contributions aged care facility providers make is to nurture connections between their residents and with their community. Helping senior avoid isolation and stimulating them to forge new relationships is a critical part of delivering the quality of life residents deserve.
While every networking program is different, several types of activities seem to be proving effective:
- Hosting children from local day care centre
- Linking with disabled group who have an interest in arts and crafts
- Schedule regular events with groups with involved in various types of animal
- Encourage regular visits from therapy dogs and cats
Fostering rich connections between care residents occurs in a number of ways. Pet programs are a popular and effective way to bring residents together. Another is to bring community members into the residence. Over the longer term, these visits promote a sense of connection between residents and their community, while individual visits stimulate their engagement. These visits appear to provide a lasting and positive benefit for all.
Children and Students
Creating opportunities for children from local day care centers to interact with older adults regularly seems to be beneficial for both parties. Crafts and reading activities are a simple way to bridge the generational gap without taxing the energy levels of the residents. The children learn useful life skills in interacting with seniors, while the residents enjoy playing with the children.
Many faith-based organisations have implemented outreach programs to bring together older residents and their faith. Under these schemes, volunteers including teens from various organisations visit with residents to share activities such as music, crafts or exercise programs.
The residents of an adult day care facility represent its biggest pool of potential volunteers. Experienced participants partner with new participants to provide an orientation to the centre. This may involve a tour of the facility, briefings on daily activities and the weekly schedule or participation in the facility’s social events, providing stimulating social interaction.
Volunteering can provide a new sense of purpose amongst residents. A sense of purpose and commitment is a helpful tool in combating loneliness. Bringing cross-generational volunteers together for a common purpose provides great social stimulus and promotes new friendships and a sense of inclusion.
Surveys of older citizens and those approaching middle age indicate the overwhelming majority of senor citizens have a strong desire to live at home and anticipate doing so. There are many benefits to home care although it comes with two challenges; cost and community.
Many older adults have a strong desire to live independently in their own home rather than relocate to a nursing home. They typically feel a strong sense of community supported by family access. Up to 95 percent of older adults surveyed share this preference.
Managing Home Care Costs
Home care doesn’t have to be expensive and is on average far cheaper than assisted living in a care facility. There are many cost-effective ways to make home care easier and safer while encouraging a sense of community. One popular means of encouraging communication is tapping into FaceBook and Skype as a way of staying in regular touch with family and friends. Other remote monitoring technology aids can also be installed in the home such as emergency alerts in the case of falls.
Simple changes to home fixtures such as changing door knobs to levers, switching faucets handles and installing bathroom rails and chairs make navigating the home much easier. Ramps also make moving around easier for older adults using walkers or wheelchairs.
Unfortunately loved one suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia eventually find that home care is not a practical option and alternative care arrangements are required.
It’s important for older adults to establish and nurture connections to their community. Socialising and friends play a key role in the mental well being of older adults.
Programs, which provide coordinated medical and dental care, field trips and events rounded out by social support and home delivered meals help create a micro-community. Through these types of programs, older adults can maintain existing relationships and forge new ones, especially if the program provides access to transport.
Delivering Vibrant Community Support For Older Adults
Preventing loneliness amongst older adults is a major preventative measure for costly illness such as dementia. Helping seniors avoid isolation and stimulating them to forge new relationships plays a critical role in providing the quality of life older adults deserve. Effective care solutions that enable older adults to maintain existing relationships while providing an anchor to their local community provide the stimulus and social belonging we all need to lead happy, healthy lives.