Loneliness and isolation are two issues many face.
According to the National Institute on Aging, loneliness increases the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, anxiety, cognitive decline including Alzheimer’s disease, and contributes to a weakened immune system. Those who regularly engage in social activities, however, tend to live longer, have better cognitive function, seem happier and healthier, and have a sense of purpose in their life.
“Socialization is important to maintain our mental health — Depression can set in when we spend too much time alone and lead to lack of motivation to take care of ourselves,” says Oasis Certified Senior Advisor Jeff Crittenden.
Regardless of your loved one’s physical or cognitive state, there are numerous programs and activities that provide excellent social outlets and opportunities for stimulation.
Highlands Community Ministries
Open Monday through Friday from 10am to 1pm with lunch at noon, the Senior Outreach Program provides a variety of daily activities such as yoga, tai chi for balance and fall prevention, painting with watercolors, bingo, and card games. They are also part of the Red Cross Wheels Transportation Program providing rides to and from the center. hcmlouisville.org/senior-activity
Jeffersontown Senior Citizens Center
Located in the heart of Jeffersontown, the Senior Citizens Center’s goal is to provide a safe and inviting atmosphere for seniors to socialize. Daily programs and activities include aerobics, bingo, and bunco. In addition, they offer special group travel opportunities for more active seniors, including day trips to area casinos and local attractions, and longer overnight excursions. jeffersontownky.com/129/Senior-Citizens
YMCA of Greater Louisville
The YMCA’s Forever Young program is focused on those age 50 and older, offering Forever Fit exercise classes and shallow water aerobics to help older adults get or stay in shape. They also host activities such as craft days, trivia, bingo, and day trips and luncheons with the goal of bringing seniors together. Activities vary by location so you’ll want to do some research and plan ahead. ymcalouisville.org/programs/health-fitness/group-interests/forever-young
Adult Day Programs
“Adult day programs are a low-cost option offering caregivers a break, while providing peace of mind knowing their family member’s needs are being met. They provide caregivers with a break so they can run errands, have lunch with friends, even just go to the grocery, while their loved one participates in stimulating activities and socialization opportunities,” said Amy Crittenden, Oasis senior advisor.
Active Day has two locations in Louisville and several throughout the state providing engaging daily activities such as bingo, games and day trips, nutritious meals and snacks, and help with personal care as needed. They also provide several transportation options including door-to-door service. activeday.com
Tri-County Community Action Agency Caring Adult Day Program
The staff is specially trained to help individuals suffering from dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s although all seniors are welcome. They offer social, mental, and physical stimulation appropriate to the individual’s capabilities and needs. A light breakfast, lunch, and afternoon snack are provided daily. tccaaky.org/adult-day.html
For more options, search the Today’s Transitions Adult Day Programs Directory here.
Listen to your loved one and watch for cues that they may be feeling lonely and isolated.
“If your loved one is calling multiple times interrupting your work day, asking about upcoming family activities or doctor visits, this is an indication they are lonely and looking forward to an outing or their next activity,” says Crittenden.
A few other signs include weight loss, poor hygiene, lack of housekeeping (dirty dishes in the sink, dust on the furniture), declining interest in hobbies or other activities they’ve enjoyed in the past, depression, and fear of being left alone.
By Kym Voorhees Raque
P.S. Here is another article you may find helpful for your loved one.