The extent of our social isolation often increases as we age.
The most prominent causes of social isolation include lack of family support and declining mental health.
However, in Singapore, research has found that 78.8% of socially isolated elderly lived with their families, indicating that elderly people that lived with their families did not preclude social isolation.
So how can we encourage our elderly parents to stay connected to the world?
Increasing individual productivity
Seniors can connect with others through social activities to increase their personal productivity.
Creates social interaction opportunities by motivating them to join the local Community Befriending Programme to forge friendships with seniors around their neighbourhood. As a volunteer befriender, it creates a sense of purpose for your elderly parents as they support the seniors that may also need emotional support.
Another way to promote active ageing would be through learning new skills. It has been highly stressed that learning is a crucial functional ability for healthy ageing, according to the World Health Organisation.
National Silver Academy, established through the Singapore Government’s Action Plan for Successful Ageing, is a platform that offers learning opportunities for older Singaporeans to develop new skills. NSA courses are also subsidised to make learning more accessible for all older learners.
Familiarising with technology helps to reduce the elderly’s sense of isolation as it allows them to connect with their loved ones easily.
However, many seniors may be hesitant to learn new technology. Try showing them the benefits of technology, such as the accessibility in connecting to their friends and family, or even staying updated with their peers’ social activity through social media.
Family support is crucial for elderly to transition into the digitalisation world. Be extremely patient and spend time to guide them step by step in using technology. Guide them repeatedly if needed. This helps our elderly parents to learn digital skills more effectively.
Social isolation is a common sight within the older age group, and it leads to mental health risks such as dementia and depression. Family remains the most important pillar of support to help elderly remain connected to the world.