If you have an aging parent or loved one, keeping them socially active and engaged is so important. When we’re at different points in our lives, there may inherently be things that keep us socially active and involved with other people.
For example, you may socialize at your job or with the parents of your children’s friends. When you get older, you lose some of those connections.
There are numerous benefits of staying socially active and engaged as we age. For example, research shows it can improve emotional health and cognitive function. Socially active people have physical health benefits such as a reduced risk of chronic diseases and even a more robust immune system.
However, it’s not always easy for older people to get socially active. The following are ways to help a loved one and give them some encouragement in this area.
You Can Socialize with Them
Socializing doesn’t have to come from relationships your relative has with people outside of your family. You can be a social network for your loved one. You can invite them to regularly do things with you, like taking a walk or even just running errands.
You can also invite them to your kids’ activities to go out and about and interact with other people.
If your loved one lives far away, make time for regular video calls, which effectively prevent loneliness and isolation.
If you do live nearby and you’re going to have any kind of social event at your home, like a game night or party, extend an invitation.
If you want your loved one to try something new and step outside of their comfort zone, you can also go with them the first few times to whatever the event is.
Encourage Other Family Members to Get Involved
If you have other people in your family who could spend time with your elderly relative, make sure you’re asking them to. Encourage your family to visit them regularly. If you can work out a set schedule, it gives your relative something to look forward to.
Do Research For Them
If your loved one has certain activities or hobbies they enjoy, you can go online and do some research to find new opportunities for them to do those things more. Older people may be interested in getting out and about and exploring their interests, but they might not know how to get started, which you can help with.
Group activities that you might look into in the local area include senior fitness classes or book clubs.
Talk to Them About Volunteering
If your loved one is physically able to do so, volunteering is fantastic for older people in so many ways. The social element comes with volunteering, but there are more benefits even than that.
When people volunteer, they can boost their self-esteem and feel good about giving back. It can also create a sense of accountability and routine when your loved one has to be somewhere at a certain time each week. It creates purpose and meaning in their life. Those elements can in and of themselves have benefits for older people.
Consider a Pet
If your loved one can take care of a pet, especially a dog, it can be good to get them socializing. Taking care of a dog can mean walks every day and perhaps visits to the dog park, where your loved one will be around other people.
Plus, a pet also provides companionship, and taking care of a pet can foster a sense of meaning.
There are a few things to keep in mind if you want your loved one to get more socially active. First, think about what they’re realistically able to do. For example, they may have physical limitations, so you should try to come up with things that will work well for them.
You also need to make sure you’re not pushing them too far. It’s good to encourage and present new ideas, but you never want to push anyone too hard to do something they don’t want to. It can be stressful and overwhelming. Start slow and have a conversation to gauge what your loved one thinks about perhaps socializing more and go from there.
They may want to try out new activities gradually, maybe with you by their side when possible.
Be patient and positive in your encouragement and emphasize the benefits of being social for everyone.