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How to Avoid Social Isolation, Especially in the Winter

A senior man sits outside in the snow.

One in four older adults say they feel isolated from other people at least some of the time, and one in three say they lack regular companionship, according to a new national poll. When seniors live alone in their homes, it’s more likely for them to become socially isolated and feel lonely. With the death of spouses and families that move away, it’s becoming common for more older adults to experience loneliness throughout the year.

However, in the winter, the risk of senior isolation increases even more. Snowy weather makes traveling difficult, and icy sidewalks can be dangerous. Some avoid going outside altogether. But you don’t have to be a prisoner in your own home this season. Keep reading to learn more about senior isolation and how to avoid that lonely feeling this winter.

Senior Isolation and Your Health

Feeling lonely can take quite the toll on your overall health and wellness. It’s well-known that there are numerous health benefits of staying socially active, including a reduced risk for arthritis, cardiovascular issues, and even some cancers. Some studies show that seniors who are socially isolated are more susceptible to illness and have weaker immune systems.

When you’re isolated from others, your mental health can also be impacted. Feeling lonely and out of contact with your friends and loved ones easily leads to depression, anxiety and higher stress levels, too. Additionally, studies have linked social isolation to cognitive decline, which can increase a senior’s risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

Signs of Senior Isolation

Because of the important impact that isolation can have on quality of life, it’s essential to recognize some of the most common signs of isolation, including:

  • Growing disinterest in activities that were once enjoyed
  • Changes in overall health and avoiding doctor’s appointments
  • Refusing help and insisting on doing everything alone

If you notice these symptoms in yourself or a loved one, it’s important to have a conversation about how you’re feeling and perhaps seek the advice of a professional for assistance.

Ideas for Social Activities for Seniors this Winter

There are plenty of ways to stay connected with others throughout the winter season. Staying active and social is a part of healthy aging, so try to think of ways you can incorporate making socializing a part of your regular routine. Here are 4 ways to avoid feeling isolated as you wait for spring:

  1. Schedule regular lunch or dinner dates with your family and friends. If you don’t have family in the area, reach out to your neighbors and see if they’d like to join you for a meal.
  2. Use technology to stay connected. Texting, phone calls and video chats are helpful tools to use to enjoy real-time conversations with people when you’re unable to see them in person.
  3. Head to the gym. Consider enrolling in a senior friendly exercise class or program. Not only will you be able to reap the benefits of regular exercise, but you can make new friends while you work out!
  4. Learn something new. Winter is a great time to pick up a new hobby. Finding an engaging activity to participate in will help prevent feeling isolated and depressed.

How Senior Living Can Help with Feeling Isolated

If you haven’t already made the move to a senior living community, it’s time to give it some thought. In fact, according to a recent study by the Mather LifeWays Institute on Aging, 69% of residents reported that moving to a Life Plan Community “somewhat or greatly improved” their social wellness. One of the greatest benefits of living in a community are all the social opportunities you can enjoy regularly, all without ever needing to step foot off the campus – an important perk during the cold, snowy season!

At Peabody Retirement Community in North Manchester, IN, you’ll enjoy vibrant, active senior living with comfortable amenities, including restaurant-style dining so you can enjoy a delicious meal with new friends. From exercise programs at the Billie Jane Strauss Wellness Center to spiritual life services for seniors, you can live the enjoyable lifestyles you need for a comfortable retirement.

If you’d like to learn more about Peabody, contact us today to schedule a visit to see all our beautiful community has to offer.

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