Those who live in independent senior living communities in Houston may not suffer from the cold as much as people in the rest of the country do. However, the winter days are shorter, and the weather is colder in Houston and elsewhere, and this causes many problems for the elderly. The cold weather makes it more challenging for loved ones to visit, and this can lead to senior isolation. Not only do family members postpone and delay their visits, but neighbors and friends living in the same senior living community may also cancel plans due to inclement weather.
Senior isolation can lead to many health issues, such as:
- Depression, which is often brought on by loneliness.
- Untreated cold and flu – if the elderly individual has trouble getting to a doctor.
- Caregivers of the elderly are also at risk for isolation. If the elderly person has a mental illness such as Alzheimer’s or a physical illness, the caregiver will find it more challenging to find time to take care of himself (or herself). This may lead to loneliness and depression. It is important to reach out for support and to accept all help offered.
Some things to combat loneliness are:
- Socialize with loved ones. If they can’t visit due to the weather, arrange to call or skype.
- Volunteer at a local school, animal shelter, or soup kitchen. Giving back increases our sense of self-worth and provides an opportunity to socialize.
- Take a class at the local community center to stay busy and socialize with other class members.
- Arrange with neighbors to stop by frequently to check in.
- Group exercise classes, which also have the advantage of providing physical fitness, and keeps depression at bay.
- Arrange for visits from local churches. The church can organize a group of young people to come and read to the residents or for a choir to come and sing.
Ensure that the senior loved ones see the doctor regularly and that health issues are addressed immediately, and that their apartment is warm and comfortable. Taking these steps will alleviate the isolation and loneliness that can spread in senior living communities.