According to a 2017 survey led by the Petits Frères des Pauvres association and the French Conseil Supérieur de l’Audiovisuel, 300,000 seniors over 60 are in a situation of “social death”. No relationships with family, friends, neighbors or associative structures: how can we protect seniors from isolation?
Seniors and their entourage
Solid friend and family networks are crucial to prevent solitude! By “networks”, we first mean the family circle: children, grandchildren, more or less close relatives, “family of heart”… Then comes the friend circle, the neighborhood circle (that can be extended to close by shop owners), and structures like recreational clubs and associations.
Family members don’t always live close to the senior: friends and neighbors can take over and help the senior avoid isolation and withdrawal. Having commercial activity around, within walking distance, or even a market, creates opportunities for the senior to go out, meet and interact with people!
With aging and retirement, seniors often limit their preoccupations to the medical field. The doctor then becomes their only window on the outside world. The Petits Frères des Pauvres/CSA survey shows that seniors over 60 are more concerned about losing their autonomy (59%) or getting sick (56%) than being isolated…
Seniors: what solutions to prevent isolation?
With retirement, aging and the emerging of physical difficulties, seniors become less active and may start feeling useless. It’s not easy to get used to having all this time ahead when you’ve been active your entire life! There’s always some volunteer work to do in an association: support with integration, literacy education, leisure activities, tutoring… There is a wide range of actions where a senior’s life experience and maturity is helpful!
Finally learn Japanese? Feed a passion for Ancient Greece? Start exercising? Now’s the time to start the activities that you’ve always been curious about, but never had enough time to explore. Courses exclusively reserved for seniors (therefore, nobody is left out) and open classes offered by universities or schools; take the plunge! And we’re not even mentioning activities and trips organized by local social action centers, that are another opportunity to learn about the world in an enjoyable atmosphere…
Social isolation usually comes along with certain shortcomings in digital knowledge. Getting more familiar with computers and internet practices allows the senior to dedicate a moment of his/her everyday life to exchange and share (in the family circle or with an association), and it also opens the door to a new world of opportunities and practices that will make his/her life better. 7 seniors out of 10 express the desire for a real digital social life.
As a member of a senior’s family or social circle, it’s also your responsibility to prevent the person from becoming isolated, even though you can’t be around as much as you would want. Get in touch with close neighbors, store owners, the family doctor, especially in critical situations: heatwave, cold spell, after a health problem… You’ll be able to weave a trustworthy network around the senior. Note that you can also use dedicated services: various organizations offer a service of rounds where volunteers go from house to house and visit seniors in risk of isolation. The French Post Office also has developed its own service offer for isolated seniors.
Senior solitude is not always easy to break, and it’s a real concern for their relatives! Get a Weenect GPS tracker: a simple, reassuring, and comforting device that allows them to contact their close circle in case of physical or emotional distress.