Help Older Adults Stay Active and Connected
How can we help older adults stay active and connected? Social connection is essential for not only a healthy lifestyle but helping to maintain overall well being. Unfortunately, as we grow older, the importance of staying socially connected is often overlooked. This is critical as isolation and loneliness are associated with poor health and higher rates of mortality. Research indicates the effect of social isolation on health is of similar magnitude to other health risks such as high blood pressure, smoking, and obesity. Seniors, in particular, are vulnerable to social isolation because established relationships change over time. For example, children grow up and move away. Friends relocate or pass away. Mobility may become an issue causing a loss of motivation to remain social. According to a CVS study Path to Better Health, 1 in 4 adults aged 65 and older no longer have friends or family nearby and don’t know where to meet new people.
The potential health impact of loneliness is alarming especially for older adults. For total health – body, mind, and spirit – seniors must be active at seeking out social interaction. Dr. Robert Mirsky, Chief Medical Officer for Aetna Medicare, helps seniors live the life they want to live at home and in their communities. He shares some great tips to help you stay socially and emotionally healthy.
Many programs exist to help seniors connect. Local senior centers, for example, have daily planned activities and typically put their calendar of events online. There might be a chess club, a book club or group trips planned. See if anything interests you. As an agent, you can offer many suggestions such as looking for volunteer opportunities with their church or checking the library for teaching programs. Libraries are known to help with technology, for example. This could help them connect with grandkids and family from a distance. Keep an open mind as you help your clients brainstorm ways to connect. Losing interest in socialization is common as we grow older. The negative outcomes and mortality rates from isolation, however, are far too great to stay in that mindset. Encourage your clients to question their assumptions and if possible seak behavior therapy to help them identify negative patterns of behavior and thoughts that impact their emotions and beliefs.
Encourage your Medicare clients to start by making a list of physical activities that they enjoy doing. Do they like hiking, taking a group exercise class, or golfing? Senior centers have group activities like yoga or pickleball to get them active and help meet new people. Participation in the popular program, SilverSneakers, has been shown to improve health outcomes by reducing loneliness and isolation by 20-25%, according to research. SilverSneakers also hosts classes called “Beyond the Gym,” at community centers, churches, parks, and also offers online classes. Adopting a pet can also open opportunities for activity and interacting with others. Many studies have proven that pet ownership reduces loneliness and stress while improving overall well-being and happiness. Check out the Seniors for Seniors program which places senior pets with senior citizens.
Empower Brokerage is dedicated to helping you educate your clients on the insurance they need to get the most out of life. Whether it’s through webinar training, one-on-one calls, seminars, or marketing plans. We want you to be successful. Give us a call if you have any questions 888-539-1633.