Monday, January 15, 2018
Fighting Senior Loneliness with 5 Fun Hobbies
Fight Senior Loneliness With These 5 Fun Hobbies
Loneliness is one of the worst things that can happen to senior citizens. According to a report from AARP, seniors who are socially isolated get sicker, experience greater cognitive impairment, and die sooner. In fact, loneliness is frequently cited as being as dangerous as smoking and obesity.
The impact of loneliness isn’t limited to physical health. Reduced social interaction is also bad for mental health. People who are socially isolated are more likely to be depressed and have substance abuse disorders. And since these problems in turn promote isolation, seniors can easily descend into an unhealthy spiral.
Moving an elderly family member in with you isn’t always an option, but what else can concerned family members do to fight senior loneliness? Drugrehab.org suggests hobbies as a way to stay social. In their words, “One of the hardest parts of being in recovery is feeling like you’re alone, or feeling uncomfortable around others while you’re in a fragile emotional state. Having a hobby can help you set the tone of your social encounters as well as keep them short and sweet; make a date with a friend to go for a swim or head to a DIY pottery class together.” Whether the senior in your life is struggling with an addiction related to his or her social isolation or just needs a gentle re-introduction to being socially active, the same advice can help.
Although hobbies are an excellent way to keep seniors engaged, the hobbies that interest a 30-something aren’t always suitable for a 70-year-old. Here are five hobbies that most seniors can enjoy:
Swimming is amazing exercise for older adults. Its low-impact nature alleviates arthritis pain while improving physical fitness, and it’s also great for mental health. According to the CDC, swimming improves moods and decreases depression. Seniors can pair up with a partner for an afternoon of swimming laps or join a water fitness class for more social interaction.
2. Cooking Classes
Whether it’s a widower who never learned to cook or a single elderly woman on a fixed income, old age comes with its own unique nutrition challenges. Add to that the changing dietary needs of older adults, and it’s not hard to see why malnutrition is such a widespread issue. Cooking classes teach seniors kitchen skills, help them learn how to eat on a budget, and make mealtime fun again by returning it to a shared activity.
Is there any better complement to culinary skills than your own kitchen garden? Gardening is revered for its gentle physical activity and power to reduce stress, and it’s also a perfect way to bring nutritious produce right to a senior’s back door. And with Master Gardener programs and community plots, it’s easy to turn this hobby into a social activity.
For the senior with an artistic streak, ceramics classes are a great way to go. Simultaneously gentle and strengthening to the hands, wrists, and arms, crafting pottery is perfect for seniors suffering from arthritis. Since it requires focus, it’s an effective distraction from negative thoughts, and it’s a quiet way to socialize without feeling pressured into constant conversation.
5. Dancing Classes
When they’re ready for more intense socialization, why not try dancing? Not all dancing styles are doable for the average senior citizen, but gentle styles like ballroom dancing, line dancing, and ballet offer a mix of fun and approachability. Not only is dancing great exercise, it’s also a fun way for a single senior to meet new friends.
The right hobby for a senior ultimately depends on tastes, but there are a few criteria to look for. The best elder-friendly hobbies get seniors out of the house and social while still being affordable. It’s also wise to choose hobbies they can access using public transportation. Since community centers and YMCAs are often on transit routes, they’re a good place to start looking. Finally, don’t be disappointed if loved ones don’t enjoy themselves right away. It takes time to rebuild social confidence, but getting out there is the best way to start.
By: Julie Morris
Image via Pixabay