“Visiting with seniors is not only rewarding, it leads to countless benefits. It provides opportunities to emotionally engage with our elders, learn from them and create new memories while ensuring they are healthy and safe.” said Councillor Andrew Knack.
Recognizing the signs and symptoms of mental health concerns, loneliness and isolation are essential to helping seniors who might be suffering. You can help by reserving judgement, making a commitment and offering to help in whatever way you can.
The following are a few examples of things to do that can help a senior and make meaningful social connections:
- Say Hello, How Are You? It’s a simple way to start a conversation. Some seniors may have trouble hearing or have memory problems, be sure to speak clearly and pause between each sentence or question so that they can digest the information. Give them extra time to answer and show genuine interest in their responses.
- Walk with someone. Going for a walk together or tagging along for errands is a great way to connect and encourages seniors to stay active. Getting outside of the home and spending quality time with another person can easily help avoid isolation and combat feelings of loneliness.
- Call or FaceTime. Calling a senior regularly is another simple act that can help maintain a senior’s well-being. Make sure that they can easily reach you by programming their phone or computer, walk them through the process, then do a trial run to make sure they are confident to do it independently. Again, showing a genuine interest in the discussion makes them feel connected and heard.
- Offer a ride. Seniors that lack adequate access to transportation are more likely to suffer of social isolation. Many seniors have issues driving and taking public transportation; by offering rides, you provide a beneficial social connection and assisting them with public transportation helps them to regain independence.
- Share a meal. Eating with someone is a personal and easy way to build positive connections, as sharing a meal is inherently social. It is particularly beneficial as a meal can be experienced and shared anywhere and at any home, including a senior’s. Dining with a senior also provides opportunity to promote better nutrition, an important matter for aging seniors.
- Shovel a sidewalk/walkway. Many seniors face a challenge every winter with the arrival of snow and ice limiting their mobility. Helping a senior in need by clearing snow is a simple way to provide relief from potential injury and to offer a helping hand.
- Volunteer to help. There are numerous senior’s centres in Edmonton that provide services, programs and activities to help seniors stay engaged and active. By volunteering, you can enhance the quality seniors’ lives and make positive social impacts and connections.