June 14, 2023 by Dean Bellefeuille

Adult son and senior father outside drinking coffee

During COVID, isolation wasn’t just the norm. It was a necessity. Older adults were especially vulnerable, so extra precautions were taken to keep them safe. Solitary lifestyles adopted out of necessity became the new norm for a number of older adults who have yet to get back to senior socialization. 

Now, though, we understand how dangerous social isolation can be, and avoiding social frailty in seniors has become a top priority. Social frailty, also called social vulnerability, is more common than both cognitive and physical frailty combined, according to a recently available study. Those who are socially frail can feel abandoned, devalued, and worried about who to turn to in a time of need. Social frailty is also linked to poor health outcomes – meaning it is essential for physicians to screen for it during regular checkups. 

How Do I Know if a Senior Is at Risk for Social Frailty?

Geriatricians will know to screen for social vulnerability, which is a great first step toward avoiding social frailty. If an older loved one sees a general practice physician, however, you can ask them to utilize the Social Frailty Index to ascertain risk. This includes regularly assessing the person’s level of social isolation and loneliness, access to internet services, obstacles to transportation, and more. 

To start, you can ask the senior to self-assess their social vulnerability by answering the following five questions truthfully: 

  • Do you feel helpful to your family and friends?  
  • Do you speak to someone every day? 
  • Do you live alone?  
  • Are you going out less often now than you did last year? 
  • Do you spend time visiting with close friends and family? 

Along with the physician’s recommendations, these answers will help you better incorporate socialization into the person’s day-to-day life by trying things like:  

  • Make time for routine visits and outings with the person. Take them out to dinner, the library, museums, or window shopping. Or spend quality time at home together, reminiscing and looking through photo albums, making favorite recipes together, and gleaning any advice and wisdom they have to share. 
  • Work together to create a list of neighbors, family members, and friends the person has not been in contact with as much as they might like. Contact this community to schedule fun visits and get-togethers.  
  • Research local senior centers and classes specifically aimed at older adults. Speak with the person about what may be fun to try: water aerobics, bingo night, learning a new language, volunteering, etc. 

At Home Independent Living offers another helpful solution to avoiding social frailty in seniors: highly trained and friendly in-home caregiving companions. We offer opportunities for reminiscing, conversations, fun activities and outings, and much more. Call us at 315-579-HOME (4663) for a free in-home consultation to learn more about our home care services in LaFayette, Fayetteville, Syracuse and the nearby areas!