It was only a few years ago that we were self-isolating to avoid COVID-19. Older adults were particularly vulnerable, so extra precautions were taken to keep them safe. Solitary lifestyles adopted out of necessity became the new norm for a number of older adults who have yet to break from this isolation.
We now understand the dangerous health risks that come with social isolation, however. Social frailty, also known as social vulnerability, is more common than both cognitive and physical frailty combined, according to a recent research study. Knowing how to help seniors avoid social frailty is vitally important. Older adults who are socially frail can feel devalued, abandoned, and unsure who to turn to in a time of need. Social frailty is also linked to poor health outcomes – meaning it is essential for doctors to screen for it during regular checkups.
How Can I Tell If a Senior Is Prone to Social Frailty?
A geriatrician will know to screen for social vulnerability. If the senior you love has regular visits with a general practice physician, however, feel free to inquire about the Social Frailty Index to ascertain risk. This includes routinely assessing the person’s level of loneliness and social isolation, access to internet services, obstacles to transportation, and more.
You can start by asking an older loved one to self-assess their social vulnerability by truthfully answering the following five questions:
- Are you living alone?
- Are you going out less often now than you did last year?
- Do you feel as though you are helpful to your friends and family?
- Do you spend time visiting with close friends and family?
- Are you talking to someone every day?
With these answers in hand and the doctor’s recommendations, you can help an older loved one modify their lifestyle to incorporate more time for socializing. Try:
- Researching local senior centers and classes specifically geared towards older adults. Speak with the person regarding what could be fun to try: bingo night, water aerobics, learning a new language, volunteering, etc.
- Scheduling regular visits, and when possible, outings with the person. Take them out to dinner, museums, the library, 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.
- Working together to create a list of neighbors, family members, and friends the senior has not been in touch with as much as they would like. Connect with these people to arrange for visits and get-togethers.
Radiant Health Services offers another solution to help seniors avoid social frailty: highly trained and friendly in-home caregiving companions. We offer opportunities for conversations, reminiscing, fun outings and activities, and more. Call us at (240) 673-6377 for a complimentary in-home consultation about how we can help a senior you love in Annapolis, Baltimore, Bowie and the surrounding areas with our home care services today!