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Senior Citizens Face Isolation and Loneliness During Quarantine

Monday , April 13 , 2020

Senior Citizens Face Isolation and Loneliness During Quarantine

Throughout the country, people have been instructed to limit face-to-face interactions with individuals outside of their immediate household. These measures help stop the spread of novel coronavirus.

Many family members have had to end visits to parents and grandparents or have had to stop seeing older loved ones in nursing homes and assisted care facilities.

The implementation of physical distancing is essential in keeping the community healthy – especially those aged 60 and older who are more likely to get admitted to the hospital and to die from the disease.

Stephanie Cacioppo, director of the Brain Dynamics Laboratory at the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Medicine, told ABC News, “The frail elderly are particularly at risk because of limited (or impaired) physical mobility, less autonomy, increased vulnerability to infections and immunological depletion, cognitive decline, chronic health conditions, lower injury thresholds and higher recovery times.”

Unfortunately, the efforts come at a hidden cost: Physical distancing may be causing social isolation and loneliness in many of the nation’s older adults.

Social Isolation and Loneliness 

Social isolation (the state of complete or near-complete lack of contact between an individual and society) and loneliness (a sense of suffering from being disconnected from other people) are not the same thing.

For many people, however, especially older adults, social isolation can lead to feelings of loneliness.

Those aged 60 plus often live alone, and when faced with a situation where they’re not supposed to leave the house, they are less likely than younger adults to maintain connections with other people.

While isolation and loneliness can have negative effects on people of all ages, it is especially damaging for seniors. Persistent feelings of loneliness have been linked to higher risk of certain mental and physical health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, heart disease – and even death.

Chronic isolation and loneliness may also manifest as changes in routine and self-care, where older adults suddenly stop bathing or eating meals on a regular schedule.

Helping Older Adults Combat Loneliness 

Experts say there are ways to help older loved ones combat the sense of loneliness, even when you can’t be there with them. Here are some ideas, from WebMD:

Send a Care Package

Due to physical limitations or lack of transportation, it may be harder for older loved ones to get to the store. And even if they can venture out on their own, they shouldn’t.

To help your older loved one stay safely in place, consider putting together a package of things you know they’ll need, such as non-perishable foods, over-the-counter medicines, and supplies such as tissues and toilet paper.

Drop off these items at your loved one’s front door or order them and have them delivered.

Schedule a Weekly Video Call

Schedule a time each week to call and check in with each other. For older adults that aren’t comfortable with technology, a regular old phone call will do – but research finds that interacting through technology improves feelings of loneliness and depression in older adults. Now may be the time to teach grandma how to use Zoom or WhatsApp (from a safe distance, of course)!

Watch a Movie Together

You may not be able to get together in person, but technology today makes it easy to have a virtual movie night. Streaming services like Netflix Party and Metastream will let you chat with each other while you watch your favorite films or television shows. Now someone just has to come up with a way to virtually share popcorn…

Host a Book Club

If your older loved one isn’t keen on the idea of technology, maybe they’d prefer a virtual book club.  Now is the ideal time to catch up on that pile of books you’ve had in your “read next” pile for the last several years!

Have one person choose a book for everyone in the family to read each week and at the end of the week, have a group phone call to discuss. If your senior parent or grandparent doesn’t own the required novel, you can easily ship it to them via Amazon or send it to them digitally via Amazon Kindle or another reading app of their choice. 

Write Letters

Letter writing is a neglected art these days – and perhaps one that your older loved ones miss. Take this opportunity to tell your friends and family what they mean to you on paper. It is likely something they will cherish for years to come, even after quarantine is over.

Try AARP Community Connections

AARP’s new online platform, Community Connections, helps users find and organize local volunteer groups to provide financial, emotional and other support to those most affected by the coronavirus outbreak. If you’re unable to communicate with your older loved ones as often as you’d like, this service may be able to connect them with others who can provide the necessary assistance.

Final Thoughts

Quarantine can be frightening, disheartening, and lonely – but it also presents a great opportunity to find new ways to create connection. Use this time to grow more united and build stronger relationships between parents, grandparents, kids, and other friends and family. Right now, it’s more important than ever before to connect and unite!

Posted in: Aging

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How to Tackle Online Dating in Your Golden Years

Tuesday , February 18 , 2020

How to Tackle Online Dating in Your Golden Years

Are you over 60, newly single, and looking to mingle? You may have noticed that the dating world has changed quite a bit over the last few decades.

Gone are the days of meeting through friends or marrying your high school sweetheart. Making connections at work happy hour or the church social are things of the past.

These days, people meet online. And in a world where we bank, shop, and set appointments from our computers, doesn’t that just make sense?

While online dating may sound daunting, it’s a total game-changer. Finding love online puts all the power in your hands, allowing you to “browse” the options before making any decisions.

And if thousands of other adults aged 60+ are doing it, why can’t you? All you need is an open mind, the ability to navigate some very basic technology, and a positive attitude!

Ready to jump in? Here’s what you need to know:

Choose the Right Dating Site
With so many dating sites out there, you may not know which one to choose. Our tip? Vet a few (specifically targeted at seniors) before you choose one or two to join.

Most sites will offer a free trial before they make you officially sign up. During that time, you can browse members to see if they seem like your type, note if they seem to be active, and (depending on the site) even message a few people.

Not sure where to start? According to Mashable, the top eight senior dating sites are:

• eHarmony
• Match
• EliteSingles
• SilverSingles
• Zoosk
• OurTime
• Senior FriendFinder
• SeniorMatch

Be Honest
When it comes to the internet, people tend to only post the very best things about themselves: The most attractive photos, the wittiest quotes, the happiest announcements.

But that’s not real life.
If you’re hoping to start a quality relationship with someone new, it’s best to start off on the right (honest) foot.

Post current photographs that show what you look like now (not when you were 20 pounds lighter or 10 years younger). Share your actual interests (not made-up hobbies that you think will make you look interesting). And, most of all, be honest about what you want (whether that’s a long-term committed relationship, or a casual fling).

Be Realistic
The over-60 dating pool keeps growing larger and larger as people live longer, healthier lives – but it’s still fairly limited.

If you go onto a dating site with very specific requirements (i.e. has a good pension, owns a home, and still has all his own hair), you may end up sorely disappointed.

Of course, you want to be attracted to the person you end up dating. But keep in mind, if you are dating someone in your own age range, there is likely to be evidence of that age. Don’t let a few (or a lot) of gray hairs turn you off!

Start a Conversation
Some people have a hard time starting a conversation in real life. The internet can be even worse – especially for a generation that didn’t grow up around technology.

Take the time to read other people’s profiles and pick up on their interests and desires. Likewise, make sure your bio has enough information about you to prompt others to ask questions or start a conversation.

Once you get the ball rolling, keep the message exchange moving until you can have a real, honest-to-goodness conversation.

Set a Date
Of course, the ultimate end goal of online dating is usually to meet someone in real life.

Once you’ve exchanged several emails or phone call and have determined that you find someone interesting, it’s time to grab a coffee.

Experts recommend having your first face-to-face in a neutral, public place. Tell a relative or friend where you are going to be and who you are meeting and choose a casual activity like breakfast or lunch.

After the date, make sure to follow up (email or text is fine) and don’t be worried if you didn’t feel any chemistry – there are other fish in the sea!

Keep browsing, make more connections, and enjoy the ride!

Posted in: Aging

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Dating In Your Sixties (And Beyond)

Monday , February 10 , 2020

Dating In Your Sixties (And Beyond)

St. Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and love is in the air.

If you’re a single senior who’d like to jump back into the dating pool, you’ve come to the right place! This week’s blog is all about romance and relationships . . . after the age of 65.

Dating in Your Sixties (and Beyond)

Some seniors are looking for love after losing a spouse. Some are divorced. And some – lifelong singles – have decided that they’re ready to settle down.

No matter the circumstances, dating as an older adult can provide some unique hurdles.

For one, there really is no precedent for dating later in life. Past generations simply didn’t live as long, “gray divorce” wasn’t really a thing, and widowers didn’t typically jump back into the dating scene.

Today, people are living much longer. If a spouse passes away at 70, their partner may feasibly live for another 10 to 20 years (or more). Many individuals don’t want to be without romantic love for that long.

The result? Many older adults are trying to navigate a world of romance that is VASTLY different than it was 50 or 60 years ago (we’re looking at you, online dating sites).

In addition, they may have to work around health problems, mobility issues, lack of transportation, a limited budget, and more.

What’s a single senior to do? Try out these easy ideas.

How do Older Singles Find Love?

Just like singles of any age, seniors can meet in a variety of ways.

One of the easiest is to be “set up” through friends or family who may know a suitable match. It’s likely that your senior friends know plenty of other people in the same age range – many of them widowed or divorced and looking for love.

If you’re not into the idea of blind dates, though, there are plenty of other ways. Here are some of our favorites:

• Hire a matchmaker: While this may seem old-fashioned and “out of date,” hiring a professional can take a lot of the headaches out of meeting someone new. They know you, they know what you’re looking for (and what you’re not), and they may know EXACTLY who to introduce you to.
• Check out the community center: Signing up for activities at the local community or senior center provide a low-key way to get to know other people. Worst case scenario? You make some new friends. Best case? You bond over your love of parcheesi and meet your next great love!
• Don’t be afraid to say “hi”: Next time you’re at the coffee shop or library, strike up a conversation with someone of interest! Even if they’re not single, it’s a fun way to meet new people and create connection.
• Try your senior living community: Do you live in an independent living or assisted living community? Chances are, many of your neighbors are single – and living nearby makes it much easier to get together without relying on others for rides.
• Enlist your children: Do you have adult children? Chances are they want to see mom or dad happy and would gladly act as wingman. Find out if they have any friends with single parents or if they know anyone through work or other activities!
• Go online!: All the kids are doing it. Why can’t you? Today, there are dozens of websites (like OurTime or Silver Singles) aimed solely at helping older adults meet. Not sure how to navigate the online world? Ask a younger adult for help!

Be Patient

Dating in your golden years isn’t quite as easy as it is in your twenties. For one, the dating pool just isn’t as large. For another, you’re likely to be FAR pickier at 65 than you were at 25 (and good for you – you should be!).

Finding the right match might take a while. And that’s ok!

Looking for “the one” can be fun. Get out, try new things, have fun, and meet lots of people.

And remember – even if you’re lonely, it doesn’t mean that you’re alone. Friends, family, and acquaintances can provide companionship and keep your days busy and full!

Posted in: Aging

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