Encourage seniors to stay socially active but don’t force the issue
Many elderly seniors Arcadia Home Care works with gradually withdraw from their social lives when they can no longer cope with the impact of short-term memory loss.
They may deny something is wrong, but, really, they are aware that there is a change in the way their memory functions. A simple case of trying to get to an old friend’s place — and getting lost — can shatter confidence. Rather than revealing the truth, the senior will try to “cover up.” She or he will cancel the next meeting, refuse an invitation, or claim to be unavailable due to another social commitment or a health appointment.
Some years ago, I worked closely with a senior who suddenly refused to attend a golf course even though he paid for meals at the club whether he attended or not. The reason: he didn’t want to go alone, and he did not want to admit that he needed a ride. The social veneer of being independent was critical to his self-esteem. Arcadia Home Care hired an older health care aide who drove the senior, spent some time over lunch to get him settled, and then picked him up when he was ready to go home.
Many creative solutions can be found to keep a senior active. For example, you can check our resources list for adult day programs in Toronto. However, also keep in mind that an elderly senior may just want to stay home even if that seems socially isolating and sad to you. It may be an indicator that he or she is facing serious memory challenges and simply feels too fearful to leave home. In such cases, I suggest you help your senior see a doctor who can do a careful assessment.