This content originally appeared in the January 16, 2020 edition of The Smart Reader.
Staying social as we age
Remaining active and engaged is one of the most important factors in maintaining good mental and physical life at any age. Later life changes like kids moving away, friends passing away or divorces may bring about isolation. Isolation and loneliness are not necessarily the same thing. Many people who report the most loneliness may be in unsatisfying marriage or relationships. Being alone doesn’t mean being lonely. However, older age often coincides with a decrease in social interaction. Loneliness can have a real effect on cognitive health. The U.S. Health and Retirement Study from 1998 to 2010 followed more than 8300 adults age 65 and older. Over the course of the study, participants reporting loneliness experienced 20% greater cognitive decline than those who did not. Social isolation is a difficult problem to solve completely, but there are ways to get involved to continue being involved and active in the community.
Volunteering is an excellent way to alleviate loneliness and get out of the house. In a survey of over 10,000 people in the UK, two thirds reported that volunteering helped them feel less lonely. Participating in different opportunities is also a great way to network and create new opportunities. Because of its relatively low barrier to entry, volunteerism is accessible for people of all ages and abilities. Opportunities to volunteer can be found on websites like VolunteerMatch.com or local spaces like a church or library.
While walking tours aren’t always accessible for everyone, for those who can partake they are a wonderful opportunity to travel, meet new people and keep physically active. For beginners, there are short tours through a city or part of a park. If you’re looking for more of a challenge, there are tours that even go through multiple countries. Whether you’re looking for a few hours’ diversion or looking to climb the Matterhorn, walking tours are an excellent way to stay engaged.
If faith is an important part of your life, connecting with a church or faith group can create a solid network of friends. Churches often have outside programs or study groups that can help facilitate closer relationships. There can also be a comfort to the structure of having a group or service to go to once a week or so.
Senior centers provide affordable programming and support specifically for older Americans. There are 10,000 centers across the United States servicing one million seniors a day. Local senior centers offer a hub where people can gather for exercise classes, meals, book clubs and so much more.
While loneliness can itself be isolating, there is nothing wrong with admitting that as life changes, so do our social needs. Wanting to be more involved in your community or just wanting friendship is a difficult thing to admit and ask for. Hopefully, these suggestions can become the starting point for a fulling and active social life at any stage of life.
For information about local volunteer opportunities, Senior Centers and more, contact the Kenosha County Aging & Disability Resource Center at 262-605-6646.
By Serena Jaros
Going on Medicare?
Learn about the 4 choices you’ll need to make.
Kenosha County Aging & Disability Resource Center sponsors monthly Medicare workshops for people new to Medicare and their families. Learn the basics of Medicare coverage, options for private health and drug coverage, and public benefits that can help with health care costs.
Welcome to Medicare Workshop
Wednesday, January 29, 2020
1 pm. – 3 pm
Kenosha County Job Center
8600 Sheridan Road, Kenosha WI
Conference Room S11, Entrance D
RESERVATIONS REQUIRED – Seating and materials are limited.
CONTACT – Kenosha County ADRC: 262-605-6646 OR 800-472-8008.
Alzheimer’s Association Caregiver Support Groups
“At support group meetings, heads nod with a lot of understanding as you speak. You can feel a sense of relief … you are not alone.”
With other caregivers, it’s easier to share your feelings. You may have a lot of mixed feelings, and it is hard to know what to do with them – sharing with our loved one is no longer possible.
At support group meetings, heads nod with a lot of understanding as you speak. You can feel a sense of relief, the release of pent up tension that comes with knowing your problems or emotions are not so different and that you are not alone.
You can share as little or as much as you want to. If you only want solid information and how-to’s, that is fine. You’ll be part of a group where people can talk together, cry together and laugh together. You may find new friends, form special relationships or just find it helps you cope with day-to-day life.
Support groups are facilitated by volunteers trained by the Alzheimer’s Association, and stay connected with ongoing training and support. They are able to refer you to Association staff if more support and services are needed.
For more information regarding support groups offered in your area by the Alzheimer’s Association contact our 24/7 Helpline at 800.272.3900, or visit our website at www.alz.org