Feeling Isolated and Lonely? Make the Most of Spring!

Man and Spring Flowers Unwanted isolation and loneliness or lack of connection can be byproducts of a long winter for anyone. Seniors and the handicapped are especially vulnerable. It’s difficult for them to be out and about, and it can be difficult for loved ones to visit them in person or take them places. We are all looking longingly for signs of spring. If possible, consider including others who have been homebound in your plans for the warmer days ahead.

Spring Activities for Yourself and Your Loved One

If you or a loved one or someone you care for has been stuck inside, fresh air and sunshine have been in short supply. Here are some suggestions for what you could do together on a spring day, depending on the person’s health and mobility:

  • Open a window and sit close to it for a visit.
  • Dress comfortably and sit outside. Enjoy the sunshine and whatever is growing.
  • Take a sort walk around the neighborhood or a park.
  • Interact with neighbors. Say “hello” to everyone you see while you’re out.
  • Go out for lunch or bring in a take-out and eat it outside.
  • Go on a scenic drive together. Point out spring blossoms and green leaves.
  • Get a bird feeder and put it where it can be seen easily either inside or out. Bird watch.
  • Visit a plant nursery and, if possible, buy something you can plant together.
  • Bring flowers in. Wildflowers in a glass or even manmade blooms can brighten up a room.
  • Draw or color pictures with a spring theme. Do it outside.
  • Have an outdoor celebration of spring with family members. Make decorations for it.
  • Do some spring cleaning. Help your loved one get rid of clutter.
    • Find simple chores you and your loved one can do together to clean up the yard.
    • Go through keepsakes and old photos together. Decide what to keep.

 In Any Season, Loneliness Affects Health and Happiness

Loneliness is an “invisible epidemic” that affects more than 60 million Americans. A New York Times article states, “Researchers have found mounting evidence linking loneliness to physical illness and to functional and cognitive decline. As a predictor of early death, loneliness eclipses obesity.” Dr. Carla M. Perissinotto, a geriatrician, adds, “The profound effects of loneliness on health and independence are a critical public health problem.” During her 6 years of follow-up, the lonely adults she studied had significantly higher rates of declining mobility, difficulty in performing routine daily activities, and death.

Other symptoms of loneliness can include:

  • Decreased energy.
  • Insomnia or sleep problems, such as trouble falling asleep or sleeping more than usual.
  • Feelings of worthlessness.
  • Withdrawal from social events.
  • A rise in blood pressure.
  • Feeling unsafe mentally and physically

Caregiver Loneliness

Caregivers for the elderly and chronically ill also run the risk of loneliness that can affect their health and emotional wellbeing. Whether you are a family member or a professional caregiver, constantly giving care to others can “shrink your world almost before you realize what’s happened.”

  • Friends may back away because of uncertainty about what you need.
  • Intense time demands lead you to drop out of outside activities.
  • If your loved one has dementia, the loss of companionship adds toisolation.

What caregivers can do: 

  • Expand your social circles, real and virtual.
  • Arrange for respite care, so you can resume an outside activity that you’ve dropped.
  • Take the initiative to reach out to friends and invite them over, if you can’t get out easily.
  • Consider joining a support group related to caregiving or to your loved one’s illness.

Play Is Important for Everyone

Play should be a major part of life for everyone. We can all benefit from more joyful experiences, no matter our age. Enjoyable activities can have several major benefits:

  • Enhance your creativity and mental sharpness.
  • Heal, establish, or maintain relationships.
  • Increase harmony, trust, empathy, and intimacy through laughter and friendly competition.
  • Give you a brighter outlook on life, expand your optimism, reduce your stress and help prevent depression.
  • Improve your physical vitality, feel younger or more energetic, boost your immune system, reduce your risk of illness, and minimize your perception of pain you already have.

 Help from Dakota Home Care:

Being social can be difficult if you are homebound by weather or any other reason.  Many elderly people and their caregivers are unaware of the resources that are available or are unable to navigate the system to get the help and companionship they need.

 Respite care: Dakota Home Care offers respite care. We have learned from first-hand experience what a positive difference just short breaks in an otherwise demanding schedule can make.

Home-visitation services and companionship:  We provide a range of medical and non-medical services to help with personal care, housekeeping, meal preparation, transportation, or just friendly companionship.    Clients can expect not only an employee, but also a companion and a friend who participates in hobbies and recreation with the patient, thus helping to avoid the very real health risks of loneliness.

Help prevent illness by lessening loneliness. Call Dakota Home care today for a free, in-hone, personal consultation on how we can help. 701.663.5373

Other Resources from Dakota Home Care:

Social Isolation in Seniors: Mitigating the Dangers (dakotahomecare.com)

Senior Depression: Key Signs to Watch For (dakotahomecare.com)

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