What is a friend? According to Webster’s Dictionary a friend is a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection or family relations. The word resonates with most using different adjectives such as confidante, bestie, or my personal favorite companion. As someone’s caregiver you are so much more than a family member you are typically their primary source of socialization and often times a friend.
When caring for your own loved one or in a work setting, it is imperative you keep in mind that all people have social needs and that includes our aging population. Implementing creative ways for them to interact with new people is great for the mind and ends up being a necessary outlet for your client. Taking your client or loved one to a social hour at your local senior center, to a neighborhood wide block party, or even something as simple as going on a walk around the mall could make the day a positive one.
Helping your client reconnect with old friends is also a fantastic idea to keep them from getting too lonely or isolated. With the age of the people that we care for, it may be more difficult to find these old friends and get in touch with them but it is possible. Simply trying to google a person’s name can get a phone number. Don’t be afraid to offer to do this for who you are caring for and making a simple phone call to find out if it is the right person. The demographics of individuals that are on Facebook show that our older population is not as prevalent on their but they still make an appearance. My grandma, who is 91 years old, has a Facebook page. Try searching for a person on Facebook and send a Facebook message or an email directly. Reconnecting with old friends can be even better than making new ones due to the memories that these friends have.
Remembering to take our aging loved ones out and about to the events they once loved is now becoming possible using assistive devices for people who cannot walk long periods of time. It is crucial to give people the feeling of independence and initiative to go out and create new experiences and with all of the resources and tools we have, there is no reason for people to be isolated, lonely, or depressed. Try and remind the aging people in your life to seize each day and experience something new.