Senior citizen man receiving affectionate licks on the face from a golden retriever

Preventing Social Isolation in Senior Men  

June is Men’s Health Month, and we thought it would be a great time to spotlight an issue affecting senior men at a disproportionate rate: isolation. Statistics tell us that while isolation and loneliness are an issue for seniors in general, older men are more isolated than older women, with about 14 percent of older men experiencing moderate to high social isolation compared to about 11 percent of older women. In this article, we’ll go over some top tips on how to prevent this from happening. 

Research tells us (and maybe some experience too) that men are less likely to see help, whether from a doctor or other support services available. They are also less likely to engage in their community and projects that may reduce their risk of social isolation, and they are often more affected by the loss of a spouse than women. This is the perfect storm of factors leading to loneliness and isolation, but what can we do about it? 

For individual men reading this, take this as your sign to get involved! Take a class at your local senior center, volunteer, or engage in some way. Men often form strong relationships in the work setting, but this disappears after retirement. Don’t wait until it’s too late to engage and reach out. You can also try to forge stronger relationships with family members. Don’t wait for them to reach out. Even if it’s hard, make the first move and try to grow closer to your children, grandchildren, and other loved ones. 

Additional tips for individuals trying to stay connected include: 

  • Maintain current connection.  
  • Engage in social activities, in person if possible. 
  • Volunteer. 
  • Care for a pet. 
  • Find grief or caregiver support. 
  • Talk with your primary care provider. 
  • Explore the things that make you happy–physical activity, hobbies, or other skills. 

For the rest of us, we can work to look out for the men in our life at risk of social isolation. If your friend or family member is getting out less and less or recently lost their spouse, make an effort to reach out to them and encourage them to get involved with a friend or social group. You can also visit or call them often, even after the death of their spouse is less recent. While they certainly need that support initially, the social contact with other friends and family shouldn’t wane. 

As organizations, we can also work to provide programming geared towards men’s interests, like our pickleball open play days on Tuesday mornings, as well as men’s only services. To learn more about the events and services SCOA offers visit https://sowegacoa.org/.

Source