5 Ways to Combat Senior Loneliness and Isolation—and Stay Connected

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Five Star- FL

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Aug 26, 2023

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Florida - Southwest

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We all know what it feels like to be lonely. It makes our world a little grayer, and happy moments a little duller since we can’t share them with someone. COVID has only made loneliness more prevalent due to the need for isolation, but even beyond the current pandemic landscape, seniors are particularly vulnerable to what many health experts call a “loneliness epidemic.”

What Contributes to Senior Loneliness and Isolation?

Senior isolation is unfortunately a common occurrence. Many older adults live at home alone, often after the loss of a loved one. Reduced mobility or lack of physical exercise can also cause seniors to become housebound or get out less. Without frequent visits from family or friends, feelings of isolation can sink in and keep you from living your fullest, most vibrant life.

Reducing Senior Loneliness & Building Genuine Human Connections

Here’s the most important thing to remember: you’re not alone. Your neighbor down the street may be having those same feelings of loneliness and isolation, just waiting for someone to knock on their door and say hello. Building genuine, human connections is one of the most powerful ways to overcome loneliness. Here are five ways to do just that and find joy, purpose and new friendships later in life.

1. Reduce isolation by getting to know your neighbors

Putting yourself out there to meet people in your community isn’t easy, but the benefits can be life changing. A 2020 global study found that “knowing as few as six neighbors reduces the likelihood of feeling lonely and is linked to lowering depression, social anxiety and financial concerns related to COVID-19.” Staying connected with your neighbors doesn’t require any grand gestures, either. The report also discovered that performing small acts of kindness like offering advice to new neighbors, helping bring in groceries or just waving hello as you walk by can reduce the likelihood of feeling lonely.

2. Fight loneliness by getting involved in the community

Everyone has unique skills and talents they can offer their community. Maybe it’s a green thumb, an artistic side or simply a passion for pitching in wherever help is needed. Volunteering is a great way to do just that while also making new friends. Search online or ask a neighbor about volunteering opportunities in your community like tending to local gardens, tutoring kids after school or helping put together care packages for those in need.

3. Prevent senior isolation by getting and staying active

It’s no secret that keeping your mind and body active has major health benefits for older adults, but if done in a group, it’s also one of the most effective ways to fight loneliness. Finding the motivation to get and stay active, though, isn’t easy. The thing to remember is, having an active senior lifestyle doesn’t mean you need to hit the gym and work up a sweat every day. Activities as simple, easy and fun as joining a neighborhood walking group or, if immobility is an issue, working on a puzzle with a friend can help improve your overall wellbeing while also keeping you connected to others.

4. Feeling lonely or know someone dealing with senior loneliness? Ask for help

Sometimes the hardest thing to do when we’re feeling lonely is just to tell someone. It can feel like you’re being a burden. Or maybe you were raised to rely on yourself, not others. For those that bravely take that first step toward seeking help, though, there are all sorts of great resources available that can help you cope. The Social Isolation and Loneliness Outreach Toolkit from the National Institute on Aging and Connect 2Tools from AARP are good places to start. If you’re experiencing symptoms of senior depression alongside feelings of loneliness—like loss of appetite or lack of energy—also consider contacting a mental health professional who can offer guidance and coping strategies.

5. Move into a senior living community

Nearly one-third of all seniors live by themselves, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. It’s only natural that it leads to feelings of loneliness, especially those who have lost their spouse. The desire to maintain independence and remain at home as you age is common amongst older adults, but isolation can be a dangerous side effect.

That’s where senior living communities come in. Life in a senior living community not only promotes health and wellness, but also encourages socialization for seniors. From the stress-free lifestyle that leaves more time to pursue your passions to the wide variety of activities offered, opportunities to know your neighbors, get involved and stay active are abundant.

The Five Star Difference: Goodbye senior loneliness, hello life

At Five Star, helping our residents find joy, purpose and friends they can call family is our mission. Our innovative LifeStyle360 wellness program is designed to connect residents and combat loneliness by offering enriching and engaging activities for residents. Don’t just take our word for it. Here’s what one resident had to say about how moving into a Five Star community helped her overcome her loneliness and live life to her fullest.

“This has been a huge blessing in my life. I found myself being very lonely and not eating well while living alone. My friends and family suggested I take a look at [Five Star] and it has been the best decision. I have made so many friends. I’ve gotten healthier with all the dining options. I go to many activities especially Bible study. Anything I need they take care of. The community is so clean and inviting. I never want to leave here and wish I had moved sooner.”

To learn more about how life at Five Star is can be the antidote to senior loneliness and isolation, contact one of our senior living experts or find a Five Star community near you.

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Its the practice of being fully present and engaged in what were doing at the moment, not overly reactive or overwhelmed by whats going on around us.In the context of improving manual dexterity, mindfulness translates to being fully attentive during the exercises, consciously focusing on the movement and coordination of our hands and fingers. This deliberate attention not only optimizes the effectiveness of the exercises but also turns them into a form of meditative practice. This can bring about a sense of tranquility and centeredness in our lives, enriching our physical and mental wellbeing. Top 10 Exercises: Simple, Effective, and FunNow that weve dissected the why, lets move on to the how. Heres our handpicked selection of exercises to help boost your manual dexterity: Finger Lifts: A simple exercise to start. Place your hand flat on a table. Try to lift each finger, one by one, while keeping the rest immobile. 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As the saying goes, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step or in this case, a single finger lift. Life is an adventure. Lets explore it together, one day, one step, one squeeze, one touch at a time. After all, its the little things that make life grand. Happy exercising!

Boost Your Brain Health With These 10 Superfoods

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Managing Seasonal Allergies

  Seasonal allergies can affect seniors just like people of any age. Older adults may experience symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, and itchy eyes due to allergens like pollen and dust. While some seniors may experience a decrease in seasonal allergies as they age, others may find their allergies worsening with time. It is important for seniors to manage their allergies effectively to avoid discomfort and potential health concerns. As seniors age, their immune systems may become less effective at fighting off allergic reactions, making them more susceptible to mild symptoms triggered by allergens such as pollen. Here are a few common Over-the-counter medications that you can use to manage seasonal allergies: Nasal steroids: These include Flonase (generic is fluticasone), and Nasacort (generic is triamcinolone). These medications are generally considered the first-line treatments for allergies. Doctors and pharmacists prefer these treatments for moderate to severe or persistent allergy symptoms. These treatments are also beneficial for itchy, irritated or watery eyes as well as nasal congestion.2ndgeneration Antihistamines: These medications which include Claritin (generic is loratadine), Allegra (generic is fexofenadine) and Zyrtec (generic is cetirizine) are good for milder allergy symptoms, or those symptoms that occur occasionally. It is very important that seniors stick with the 2nd generation antihistamines and AVOID Benadryl (generic is diphenhydramine) or Chlor-Trimeton (generic is chlorpheniramine). Antihistamines such as Benadryl can cause excessive sedation, worsen glaucoma, and promote increased fall risk in elderly patients. Therefore, it is best to avoid Benadryland Chlor-Trimeton when you get older.Nasal Antihistamines: These include brands Astepro and Astelin, and these medications are considered add-ons to nasal steroids. If you are still suffering from allergy symptoms while on a nasal steroid, these may provide additional help.Ophthalmic antihistamines: For those with watery or itchy eyes, in which nasal steroids are not quite enough, medications such as Zaditor (generic ketotifen) or Pataday (generic olopatadine) are eye drops that can provide additional benefit.Lastly for uncontrolled nasal congestion one can consider nasal decongestant medications such as Afrin (generic is oxymetazoline). Realize there are some warnings with these medications. They can cause rebound nasal congestion if used for 3 days or more. Reserve this medication for nasal congestion that does not respond to nasal steroids, or for the occasional nasal stuffiness. If you have uncontrolled high blood pressure, avoid this medication.The management of seasonal allergies includes nonpharmacologic and pharmacologic approaches. Nonpharmacologic measures include nasal irrigation and allergen avoidance (e.g., keeping windows closed, using window screen filters and air conditioning, limiting outdoor time during peak allergen season, showering after outdoor exposure). Choose a medication based on severity of symptoms, patient age, other medical conditions, and preferences.  Immunotherapy (subcutaneous or sublingual) can be considered if other management is not adequate or if the patient has seasonal allergies in combination with asthma. Alternative therapies (e.g., supplements, homeopathy, and acupuncture) have been used and promoted for seasonal allergies; however, there are insufficient data to recommend these therapies.--------------------------------------------------------------------------Seniors can help manage their seasonal allergies by incorporating an immunity-boosting diet that includes foods like apples, strawberries, ginger, leafy vegetables, walnuts, and fatty fish. It is crucial for caregivers of seniors to be aware of how seasonal allergies can impact older adults and provide the necessary care and support.If you are a senior or a caregiver of a senior experiencing seasonal allergies, it is recommended to seek guidance from healthcare professionals on how to effectively manage and alleviate allergy symptoms. Implementing strategies to minimize exposure to allergens and incorporating healthy lifestyle habits can significantly improve the quality of life for seniors dealing with seasonal allergies.As we grow older, our body changes and so does our immune system. Just as we no longer run as fast as we once did, we may lose our tolerance to potential allergens, from pollen to dog hair. And, on the flip side, we may build immunities to the things that once bothered us, research shows.  Nasal antihistaminesSee a comparison of nasal sprays for allergic rhinitis later in the document.Add-on therapy with nasal steroids, if needed (especially for nasal congestion).1,3,8Under two years (Astepro [US]) or under five   years (Astelin [US]).9Under six years (olopatadine).9Neither available as single-ingredient nasal sprays in Canada. Ophthalmic antihistaminesAdd-on therapy for eye symptoms with nasal steroids, if needed.1Under three years (ketotifen, olopatadine [Canada]).9,15,16Under two years (olopatadine [US]).9 Decongestants (intranasal, oral)Inadequate response from a nasal steroid for nasal   congestion.2Use in combination with an oral antihistamine  (intranasal).3Intermittent nasal congestion.2Hypertension, arrhythmia, coronary heart disease, hyperthyroidism, glaucoma, diabetes, and benign prostatic hypertrophy (oral).2Prolonged use (more than three to five days) (intranasal).2,3With monoamine oxidase inhibitors.6Monotherapy (intranasal).6