6 Ways to Keep Seniors from Being Bored and Withdrawn

Seniors loving life on a golf cartActive Seniors = Happy Seniors

Many older people can become bored, lonely, depressed, and downright pitiful—mainly because they don’t stay active and partake in the world around them.

The reasons they have retreated into themselves are numerous:

  • Lack of transportation keeps them at home; asking for rides makes them feel they are putting someone out
  • A poor physical condition creates barriers to a more active lifestyle
  • Loneliness can lead to depression, especially for those living alone
  • Feeling helpless and not in control of their circumstances: finances, health, emotions
  • Depression is a vicious cycle that affects mood, appetite, and physical well-being; they may not want to participate in an activity because they’re depressed
  • Loss of a sense of purpose; many older people don’t feel needed, especially if they have lost their significant other

What can be done to help bring these seniors out of themselves and into a more hopeful outlook?

1. Sign them up or direct them to an activity at their local senior center. This is where the town’s seniors participate in activities such as bingo, game night, dancing, trips to nearby attractions, lunches, informational lectures, etc. We are fortunate in New Jersey to have many of these centers close by. Check out our list of senior centers in Mercer County and senior centers in Burlington County.

2. Enroll your loved one in the Meals on Wheels program. This wonderful service connects home-bound seniors to friendly meal delivery people. Often, the folks who deliver the meals form friendships with the seniors who receive the meals. Meals on Wheels isn’t just for lower income people, either. All income levels are represented, and the recipient pays as he or she can afford. Read more for Meals on Wheels in Mercer County and Meals on Wheels in Burlington County.

3. Encourage seniors to adopt a pet. Not all seniors are able to physically or financially handle a pet. However, the physical and mental health benefits of caring for and loving a pet are numerous and worth looking into. Dogs, cats, fish, gerbils, guinea pigs, hamsters, and birds are just several animals to consider. Before bringing over a German Shepherd puppy to your older mother, for example, make sure she’s physically able to handle an animal so large and active. Consider your loved one’s particular limitations.

4. Suggest they seek employment, a volunteering opportunity, or enroll in a college or continuing education course. Of course, consider their physical health and transportation options before suggesting a specific role. For those who are mobile, volunteering or working at a homeless shelter, a local library, a school, or a part-time job may be idea, even for a few hours a week. For older adults who are home-bound, taking a computer class, sewing blankets for homeless shelters, knitting scarves and mittens for needy children, or writing cards to service members are ideas which can help provide a much needed sense of purpose.

5. Look into services provided by nonprofit organizations in your loved one’s community. This could include volunteers who frequently call seniors to check on their well-being, pet organizations who visit older adults, or volunteers who will do errands or grocery shopping for seniors. Call your loved one’s Office on Aging to learn of these programs in their area. In New Jersey, call the Office on Aging at 877-222-3737.

6. Hire a home care aide, such as with Visiting Angels. In-home aides can help your loved one with so many things, such as encouraging them to eat (and preparing the meal), housekeeping, helping them get dressed, doing laundry, listening to their stories, accompanying them to the grocery store and to the mall, helping them rearrange their closets, playing cards or games with them, looking through old photo albums, helping them get into a bath safely, and the list goes on! Companionship is major benefit a home health aide offers.