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How You Can Help Aging Residents Fight Social Isolation

Posted by IKO Community Management on August 10, 2017 at 9:00 AM

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Social interaction is highly important to the mental and physical well-being of your residents, but what happens when they begin to age, leaving you to find a solution to combat social isolation?

As your residents progress through life, going out and being social becomes more of a challenge. For the elderly who are living alone, lack of mobility and transportation due to physical make it even more difficult. This can make social interactions few and far between, causing aging-in-place homeowners to face social isolation.

Negative health effects for aging residents who aren’t as social as they once were include:

  • Loneliness. Loneliness isn't interchangeable with social isolation. The difference is that loneliness is something you feel but can remedy by engaging with people. Social isolation, on the other hand, is when you’re physically, geographically, or economically unable to put yourself into social situations to combat loneliness.

    If social isolation becomes a serious issue for aging-in-place residents, they can develop chronic loneliness. According to Psychology Today, this can cause numerous health complications, including higher blood pressure and stress levels.
  • Higher Risk For Poor Mental Health. Depression is one of the most common mental illnesses of today, no matter the age. This mental disorder negatively affects how you act, think, and feel. With depression, aging-in-place residents face a multitude of side effects, including an increased risk for cardiac issues.

    The University of Chicago performed a study on mental health and the effects of social isolation, concluding that social isolation is capable of causing stress and confusion. It can even change how the brain functions altogether.

  • Weaker Immune Systems. The combination of loneliness and social isolation can cause negative effects on older homeowners' immune system. An NPR article states that social isolation can alter the way white blood cells work, which can be devasting as white blood cells help the body fight infections and disease.

  • Other harmful behaviors to look out for include hoarding and addiction. Psychiatric Times reports that certain behaviors, like hoarding, are more common in older generations due to the heightened interest of linking memories to things and saving money. This habit can lead to unsanitary living conditions.
Even though it's harder for older homeowners to escape social isolation, HOA board members and property managers can offer the following creative solutions:
  • Check for local ride services. Certain HOA communities have abundant access to public transportation through bus stops. However, some aging-in-place homeowners might not feel comfortable with idea of walking to the bus stop or calling a taxi.

    To combat this issue, ride-share company 
    Lyft develops partnerships with CareLinx, Ascension, and Concierge to provide safe and reliable transportation for those more than 65 years old. Likewise, Uber relaunches a pilot program, Freedom In Motion, and partners with MedStar Health and 24Hr HomeCare to help aging residents attend doctors appointments, recreational activities, family visits, senior care centers, and more.
  • Engage local volunteer opportunities. Volunteering is a great way to get aging residents active in your HOA community. Numerous benefits come with volunteering at nonprofits like animal shelters and soup kitchens, such as physical and mental stimulation. VolunteerMatch.com is a great tool to help see what opportunities are available for all members of your HOA community.
  • Establish an HOA subcommittee. Organize a group of volunteer individuals within your HOA community that can spend time with older homeowners and help them run errands, attend appointments, and enjoy their company through game night or book club.

Helping aging residents remain socially active has its challenges. It’s a hard subject to talk about, but HOA board members and property managers can definitely help.

If you think your community might need help with this situation, download our latest white paper, An HOA’S Complete Guide To Helping Aging-In-Place Residents by clicking on the button below:


Download the HOA's Complete Guide to Helping Aging-in-Place Residents

Topics: HOA Board, Landlords