Keeping socially engaged is important for people as they age. Here are a few ways that can help seniors stay social.
Volunteering is a great way for seniors to meaningfully spend their time, and meet new people. There are a range of volunteering options to fit the interests and abilities of almost anyone. Volunteering at a library or a school reading program, for example, is a great way to share a love of learning and interact with young people. Volunteering can also help keep seniors physically active, such as with canvassing to raise funds for a charity.
2) Visit Local Senior or Community Center
Local senior centers often host social events. Seniors can mingle with others their age in a setting that will be comfortable. Senior centers may have clubs that interested parties can join, such as bird watching, dominos or gardening. Having consistent social outings to look forward to helps all of us stay positive and feel connected to others. Community centers may host events, holiday parties or local volunteer events that can have seniors stay connected with the community. Senior or community centers may host recurring dinners, which is a great way to stay social.
3) Plan a Weekly Dinner
Regular meals with family and friends are another way for seniors to stay social. Some people may find the ritual of “same time, same place” reassuring, but if you find that monotony is setting in, switch it up by trying new dishes or exploring new places. Local restaurants may have a senior discount or early bird specials that you can take advantage of.
A great way to have a grandparent stay in touch with younger family members is through cooking. Many cultures pass down heritage with recipes. Grandparents teaching grandchildren or other family members can be a great bonding opportunity. Or, have a younger person teach the senior how to make their favorite recipe. Not only will these dinners help seniors stay social, but they can inspire them to cook more and try new cuisine.
4) Get a Smartphone
Smartphones are a great way for seniors to stay social. With younger generations so involved with technology, texting or video-calling is a great way to stay in touch. Show your senior loved one how to use the device or find helpful resources so they can learn. In addition to texting, calling and video-calling, seniors can play interactive games that promote mental agility, take and send pictures and stay organized. There are downloadable apps for scheduling, keeping to-do lists, setting reminders and timers, and much more.
5) Get a Pet (Real or Robotic!)
Pets such as dogs or cats can help a senior stay socialized. Both dogs and cats provide companionship. Dogs help seniors stay active. Cats are independent and a great choice for seniors in wheelchairs or who can’t commit to walking a dog. Pets are also a great way for young people and seniors to interact, connect and make memories. If your senior loved one is able to take care of a pet, consider visiting your local shelter to find them their new friend.
If a senior is unable to have a live pet, consider a robotic or virtual pet. These allow seniors to take care of pets without having extra responsibilities or commitments. While some senior housing allows pets, many do not, so a robotic or virtual pet is a great alternative.
It’s important for seniors to stay social for many reasons, with wellness at the top of the list. Being social helps seniors keep their minds sharp and decreases the risk of depression. Whether you try these or other tips, be sure to find a way to help the senior in your life stay social!