Many seniors prefer to age in place, but one of the risks is lack of social interactions. Even with a caregiver assisting a loved on, there is still a lack of fun, excitement and connection to peers. Family members living at a distance may feel also add to the difficulty of how to help.
1. Maintain frequent contact. If you're used to calling Mom or Dad on a monthly basis, it's time to increase the frequency. Significant events also require additional contact. If they lost a spouse or can't drive any longer, they need more contact. You don't need any speecific reason, just make it consistent and call often.
2. Visit in person at regularly. Personal interactions are important. Not only is it better than a call because you can see what is going on, it is best for the senior to see you, get a hug from you and feel that you care. If distance and time make this a challenge, consider using video to make contact and stay involved in their life.
3. Check out community resources for elders where your parent lives. Most urban and suburban areas have senior centers with good opportunities to connect and make friends. Various types of entertainment and games are offered throughout the week at these facilities. You can even accompany your loved one to an event, arrange transportation or otherwise facilitate the process. Many centers offer transportation services and a number of other benefits such as yoga, arts and crafts, bingo and many more activities. Committing to making connections with some support may turn a shy/lonely senior into a happier one.
4. For distance caregivers, consider hiring a geriatric care manager to check in on your aging parent at regular intervals. You don't have to have a housebound elder to use a geriatric care manager. These professionals are often nurses or social workers, experienced in matching the elder's needs to community resources for improved socialization. They can find the activities, work out the logistics and go with the elder in your place if you are far away.
5. Consider teaching your loved one to use technology. Connecting with others through facetime and other means can be extremely useful. A computer with a camera is a bridge to anyone in the family. Even an aging parent who has never touched a computer before can learn if willing. If you're not good at teaching, perhaps a kind grandchild will do the job or you can get grandma to attend a first timer's computer class. The effort is so worth it!