Cities have been starting to take note of the impact of social isolation on seniors. Fortunately, a handful of them have taken action. See how here.
For decades, the government and public health organizations have raised awareness of the dangers of smoking and being overweight. The health risks tied to tobacco use and unhealthy eating have a real impact on people’s quality of life, particularly as they age.
There is another public health issue, however, that also has a negative impact on par with obesity and smoking, and that is social isolation. When people are disconnected from each other, both physical and mental health is affected.
Seniors are one demographic that can be particularly prone to isolation. This is true for many reasons, including issues of physical mobility, the fact that many seniors no longer drive, and that family members often live far away.
Fortunately, many cities are taking the initiative in addressing social isolation through programs and institutions like these:
- Transportation services for the elderly and those with mobility issues. By offering door-to-door transportation, communities allow seniors to visit friends, connect with neighbors, and stay active.
- Offering strong opportunity for cultural engagement: Cities and towns that offer opportunities for affordable cultural experiences, such as museums, concerts, and art exhibits, are also offering opportunities for community members to come together as they stimulate their minds and hearts.
- Green space and fitness programs: Communities that have safe places to run, walk, and cycle offer seniors the opportunity to get out into their neighborhoods while staying fit. Community recreational centers and park district programs may also offer more structured exercise options that seniors can participate in year ‘round.
- Providing safe, affordable senior housing communities: For seniors who don’t live near or around family members, being able to live in community with others is often crucial to maintaining social ties.
In addition to these community programs, many seniors are taking responsibility for maintaining and creating social connections by getting involved in community organizations, religious congregations, and local politics. They are also using technology like GrandPad to stay in touch with loved ones via video chat and social networks. When everyone does their part, fixing social isolation can become an achievable goal.