How to help your Mom or Dad remain socially active
I have observed that one sad reality of aging seems to be that a senior’s most frequent “social” events are funerals.
Outliving one’s friends is a difficult truth. It is important to keep this in mind when suggesting to a senior that he or she should get out more, meet with friends, visit the legion, or go back to the cafe for a card game. It is no coincidence that leaving the home becomes harder when there are fewer friends to visit.
When you can’t convince elderly parents to maintain their old social circles, you may feel a sense of guilt. It is a slow and gradual process until finally you realize Mom or Dad seems to be ‘shut in’ (how much I dislike that word!). Thus, you may try to increase your own visits and calls, but often that’s not a sustainable solution.
Adult day programs offered by many community agencies can provide an excellent solution, especially when programs are congruent with the senior’s background and values.
It may take multiple attempts to help a senior get used to an adult day program. For example, the senior may complain that everybody at the program is old. (Ironically, they are really the same age, but we all see ourselves as we once were, and rarely as we really are now.) Other hurdles to acceptance may be traveling to a new place; the senior may feel worried he won’t be able to find his way back home. Some programs provide transportation. Alternatively, using a Personal Support Worker to travel with the senior to and from the adult day program can be a good solution. I would recommend that you consider the benefit of having a PSW drop off the senior with a clear understanding that he or she is free to leave at any time and return home. Giving your loved one this choice can be a powerful motivator to give the adult day program a try!