Old age is a time for peace and rest. It is said that old age is the second childhood. However, with aging come health problems and the inability to perform once cherished activities . Add to that, losing touch with near and dear ones, and you’ve got a recipe for emotional problems like depression.
Social age is a person’s habits or roles relative to social expectations. Growing old leads to a constant deterioration of both the mental and physical abilities that are important in modern life. Elderly people go through a lot of physical, psychological and behavioural changes. Intellectual ability and physical capacity declines with advancing age.
There are many reasons why social isolation happens in the elderly. Some of these factors are:
- Loneliness due to the death of a spouse or friends
- Feeling of social isolation as children become busy with their own lives or move to a different city or country
- Dependence on care givers to perform activities of daily living
- Stress due to financial issues from loss of regular income
- Struggling to cope with and difficulty accepting physical changes due to aging
- Advancing age severely limits mobility and the persuasion of hobbies
- Feeling of dissatisfaction due to retirement and lack of routine activities
- Depression due to ongoing or chronic medical problems and medication
For elderly people with dementia, relocation also causes social isolation. Moving away from their known surroundings causes confusion and their increasing dependence on others may lead to frustration. This may lead them to avoid social interactions.
Sometimes the feeling of losing control or inability to take decisions by themselves may also lead to intensified depression. Not being able to express one’s feelings to anyone, or lack of a confidante or friend may be a reason for loneliness.
How to help elderly facing social isolation
- Plan a small trip once in a while with your loved one. Just a stroll for half an hour to a nearby park or getaway can help them feel fresh and drive away depression and feelings of loneliness. Offering them a ride also helps them keep in touch with their social surroundings and brings about a sense of independence.
- Motivate them to remain occupied with hobbies and interests. Making available opportunities to volunteer will give them a sense of purpose which in turn will make them feel important.
- Those who are religiously inclined should be encouraged to visit their places of worship regularly. Praying or meditation help to develop a mind that is fresh and free of unwanted thoughts.
- Tending to a pet or gardening can keep them busy and satisfy their urge to care and nurture. These are also proven to be efficient ways of combating depression.
- With old age come difficulties in hearing and vision. Elderly people who have such issues, that are undiagnosed and left untreated, hesitate to face social situations. Embarrassment due to difficulty in communication with others slowly makes them avoid socialising. This leads to social isolation.
- Elderly persons experiencing incontinence tend to stay at home and avoid social interactions for fear of embarrassment. Caregivers and family members of these seniors should be more careful and prompt in providing incontinence solutions so that they feel more confident and improve social interactions, consequently avoiding feelings of loneliness.
A counselling session can help the elderly facing social isolation to adjust with lifestyle changes. This will better prepare them emotionally. Elder care in Kolkata is a nascent field but it is here to stay.
For further details, visit us at TriBeCa Care