How to Lower a Senior’s Risk for Social Frailty
It was not that long ago that people were isolating from one another to guard against spreading COVID-19. The elderly were particularly vulnerable, so extra precautions were taken to keep them safe. Solitary lifestyles adopted out of necessity became the new norm for many seniors who have yet to break from this isolation.
We now have learned, however, that there are dangerous health risks to social deprivation. Social frailty, also referred to as social vulnerability, is more common than both cognitive and physical frailty combined, according to a recent study. Older adults who are socially frail can feel abandoned, devalued, and worried about who to turn to in a time of need. Social frailty is also associated with poor health outcomes – meaning it’s critical for doctors to screen for it during regular checkups.
How Can You Determine if an Older Adult Is at Risk for Social Frailty?
A geriatrician will know to screen for social vulnerability. If a senior loved one sees a general practice physician, however, you can ask them to use the Social Frailty Index to ascertain risk. This includes routinely assessing the person’s level of social isolation and loneliness, obstacles to transportation, access to internet services, and more.
You can start by asking a senior loved one to self-assess their social vulnerability by truthfully answering the following five questions:
Are you going out less frequently now than you did last year?
Do you spend time visiting with family and friends?
Do you feel as though you are helpful to your family and friends?
Are you speaking with someone each day?
Are you living alone?
With these answers in hand as well as the physician's recommendations, you can help a loved one adjust their lifestyle to incorporate more time for socializing. Try:
Scheduling regular visits, and if possible, outings with the person. Take them out to coffee, museums, the library, or window shopping. Or spend quality time at home together, looking through photo albums and reminiscing, creating favorite dishes together, and gleaning any advice and wisdom they have to share.
Research local senior centers and classes specifically aimed at older adults. Talk with the senior regarding what may be fun to try: water aerobics, bingo night, learning a new language, volunteering, etc.
Work together to create a list of family members, friends, and neighbors the senior has not been in touch with as much as they would like. Get in touch with these people to arrange for visits and get-togethers.
The Care Company provides another excellent solution to lower the risk for social frailty: highly trained and pleasant in-home caregiving companions. We provide opportunities for conversations, reminiscing, fun activities and outings, and so much more. Contact us at (416) 422-2273, or reach out to us online for a free of charge in-home consultation today!