It was only a few years ago that we were social distancing to protect ourselves from COVID-19. Seniors were especially vulnerable, so additional precautions were taken to keep them safe. Solitary lifestyles adopted out of necessity became the new norm for many seniors who have yet to break from this isolation.
We now know, however, that social deprivation causes dangerous health risks. Social frailty, also called social vulnerability, is more common than both cognitive and physical frailty combined, according to a recently available research study. Older adults 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 is important for physicians to screen for it during regular checkups and to provide recommendations to avoid social frailty.
How Can You Determine if a Senior Is Prone to Social Frailty?
A geriatrician will know to screen for social vulnerability. If an older loved one sees a general practice physician, however, you can ask them to use the Social Frailty Index to ascertain risk. This entails routinely checking the senior’s level of obstacles to transportation, loneliness and social isolation, access to internet services, and more.
Start by asking the older adult to gauge their own social vulnerability by honestly answering the following five questions:
- Do you feel as though you are helpful to your family and friends?
- Are you living alone?
- Are you going out less frequently now than you did a year ago?
- Are you talking to someone each day?
- Do you spend time visiting with close friends and family?
With these answers in hand, along with the physician’s recommendations, you can help an older loved one adjust their lifestyle to include more time for socializing. Try the following:
- Research local senior centers and classes specifically geared towards older adults. Talk with the senior about what might be fun to try: water aerobics, bingo night, learning a new language, volunteering, etc.
- Schedule regular visits, and if possible, outings with the person. Take them out to lunch, the library, museums, or window shopping. Or spend quality time at home together, reminiscing and looking through photo albums, making favorite dishes together, and gleaning any advice and wisdom they have to share.
- Work together to create a list of neighbors, family members, and friends the individual has not been in touch with as much as they might like. Reach out to these people to arrange for visits and get-togethers.
Golden Harmony offers another great solution: fully trained and friendly in-home caregiving companions. We provide opportunities for conversations, reminiscing, fun activities and outings, and much more in Raleigh and the nearby areas. Contact us online or call us at 919-426-7522 for a complimentary in-home consultation today!