The AARP Foundation’s Connect2Affect has called social isolation a “growing health epidemic” among older adults. It equates the health risks of prolonged isolation with smoking 15 cigarettes daily. Adding a Quality of Life Program to a geriatric care management practice can help serve independent seniors who do not need hands-on care but do need more community and a way to help themselves overcome loneliness and social isolation.
In a recent study loneliness in seniors between the ages of 65 and 86 led to a 64 percent increase in the risk of developing dementia, an extraordinary spike in odds highlighting the importance of fostering meaningful relationships at all stages of life. Helping seniors, through a quality of life services, find new human connections and community, can give an older person a greater sense of happiness and joy. But as this study shows critically- better health.
Quality of Life of the older client can be important to the older person’s family. If the family is involved, which it often is, even if the senior is living alone, the care manager can assist families by beginning the dialogue to open discussions on preferences and values of the older client and the family. What would give the older person joy in their life? Would it be art, going to baseball games, being in a knitting group, having a tea for friends at their home, volunteering with a group?
Quality of Life issues that the care manager should assess is the individual’s need for social interaction or privacy; the value of family; proximity to cultural stimulation; and adaptability to change. These are just some of the many quality of life considerations.
A Care Management Agency can even develop a Quality of Life programs. Sage Eldercare in Northern California has developed a unique activity kit called Joyful Moments that helps family members, care managers, and caregivers. Joyful Moments, unique activity cards that give “the tools to re-engage older adults in life—and turn every visit from mundane to memory making. Nina Herndon the director of Sage Eldercare is also an expert in quality of life for seniors and authored a chapter on how care managers can develop that skills with seniors Handbook of Geriatric Care Management
Choice is important with seniors When values and preferences differ between elders individuals, in the family, it is important to identify how the differences may impact all involved in the process. What if the older person wants an electric scooter so she can shop at Safeway, the store she has used since she was a young mother and wife? At the same time what if the adult son or daughter will only shop at organic, health food markets and wants her mother to shop there. On top of that, the daughter feels the electric scooter is unsafe and the aging mother feels she is safe. How do you solve this quality of life dilemma?
Care Managers can be so valuable in not only helping a senior create a path out of loneliness and isolation by assisting in removing barriers to quality of life that family members may, out of care and worry, put in the elder’s way.