Although the phrase of the year might be social distancing, the practise of socially isolating can be quite detrimental to many.
Having social connections is especially valuable for seniors.
Interacting with others keeps the mind sharp, lowers the risk of dementia, increases a sense of belonging, and helps people stay tethered to reality.
In Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows there are plenty of options for people 55-and-older to improve their social connectivity.
1. Have your hearing and vision tested – It sounds simple, but people who struggle with vision and hearing might tend to avoid social situations. Hearing aids or spectacles can improve confidence, and make meeting a friend or neighbour more enjoyable.
2. Faith communities – If you observe a faith, attend church, temple, or the mosque, many congregations offer support for their elders (rides, social get-togethers, etc.), and it can be easy to spend time with like-minded people.
3. Keep a pet – Furry friends are great company. Not only do they provide an at-home companion, they are also an excellent reason to go outside. Physically distant dog park get-togethers are always fun. If you travel often, have a hospital stay, or illness, groups like ElderDog Canada can provide temporary care for a dog.
4. Get grief support – If you are grieving the loss of a spouse or child – even if it has been years – the Ridge Meadows Hospice Society can support you. They also offer a walking group for clients.
5. Join the Ridge Meadows Seniors Society – RMSS offers a wide range of programs and services including card games, dance, ping pong, carpet bowling, craft groups, a men’s coffee group, and much more. During COVID, those options are limited, but the society does also offer senior outreach services. There are many volunteer opportunities too, within the society, for those who are able to lend a helping hand.
6. Hopping on the seniors party bus! – Once again, this will not by running while the pandemic restrictions are in place, but the local community services agency offers a social program for isolated seniors, which includes transportation for two outings a month. Many friendships have resulted from the program.
7. Dive into technology! – You are never too old to learn. Tablets and computers are very user friendly. Don’t be afraid to try something new.
8. Volunteer – There are volunteer opportunities for every interest and mobility level. For some ideas, see page XXXXX of this directory. Volunteering introduces you to a new social circle and purpose.
9. Exercise – Even a short walk on a regular route will make you feel better. Both cities offer the “Choose to Move” program for seniors new to exercise. Walking groups are another great opportunity to meet people.
10. Reach out – Several organizations in our community also offer friendly visitor programs, in person or by phone.