Combating Social Isolation Through Engagement
By Michelle Cone, SVP Training and Brand Programs
In life, one guarantee comes with aging – change! As we age, circumstances in our lives often change. Children grow up and may move away; we retire from our jobs; friends may move away; vision may change and worsen over time, which may make us unable to safely drive; we may require more medications to regulate issues such as high blood pressure and with these medications we may have increased dizziness or become less steady on our feet than we once were. When these changes happen, we often do not realize how much it affects our ability to remain connected to our friends and loved ones, which very often leads to social isolation.
A senior’s overall health can also be impacted by the effects of isolation and its accompanying feelings of loneliness. Senior isolation and loneliness are more than just a social problem, they are serious public health issues. Research has linked loneliness to increased mortality rate comparable to smoking 15 cigarettes per day.
For those that are isolated or experience loneliness, studies show higher rates of:
- chronic health issues such as heart diseases, diabetes, and gastrointestinal issues,
- overall weakened immune system,
- Alzheimer’s and dementia,
- admissions to long-term care facilities such as a nursing home, and
- even death.
Human beings are communal by nature and we do not do well in isolation. We need someone to hold our hand, to listen to our stories, to enjoy a meal together and to just spend time with us. These are nothing more than basic needs.
This is where HomeWell comes into play. Home care is not just for assistance with activities of daily living, but it also offers human companionship that is so essential for a healthy life. Studies show that people who engage in meaningful, productive activities with others tend to live longer, boost their mood, and have a sense of purpose. These activities seem to help maintain their well-being and may improve their cognitive function.
This is why we’ve created our Life Enrichment Activities Program or LEAP. This program is designed to offer socialization and engagement activities for all of our clients. With LEAP, we can encourage our clients to experience new things, to enjoy what they once missed or to continue to do what they love to do, but now with the safety and companionship of their dedicated HomeWell caregiver.
LEAP enhances the home care experience with activities designed to eliminate boredom and vastly improve quality of life. Our thorough assessment of each client’s abilities allows us to provide enrichment opportunities for any client, regardless of limitations. LEAP is designed to benefit anyone who may need some extra engagement and support, ensuring each client has the opportunity to participate in activities and hobbies that bring them joy.
LEAP activities can include:
- Learning new skills
- Visiting local attractions
- Playing cards, board games or solving puzzles
- Gardening, going for walks or bird watching
- Beauty salon or spa visits
- Cooking or baking
- Shopping excursions
- Attending sporting events or concerts
- Trips to museums, art shows or special events
We all need social connections to thrive. Seeing another person’s face is a powerful way to connect. If you or someone you love is experiencing social isolation and accompanying feelings of loneliness that can often come with aging, contact your nearest HomeWell location for more information on how a HomeWell Care Manager can tailor a plan specific to you or your loved one’s needs.