As people age, they often lose many social supports they have previously enjoyed. Family moves away, friends die, and too often, mobility and transportation may present hurdles. But do you realize that lacking social support can do more than just cause loneliness? The lack of interactions and socialization can impact a person's physical and mental health. But what are social supports, and how do you identify them? Here are a few ways for your consideration.
What Are Social Supports?
When looking for home care services for senior family members, you often quickly identify the physical support they need but overlook mental or emotional support. Social supports are loosely defined as the social circles of friends, family, or caring providers people can turn to.
These supports are in three distinct categories. These include:
Emotional or non-tangible supports - These actions make a person feel cared for. It may be something as simple as a telephone call, a card in the mail, or a visit from a home care worker.
Instrumental or physical supports - These supports are tangible. They are the material contributions needed for one's well-being. Examples of these may include financial support and housekeeping or meal prep services.
Informational supports - These supports provide helpful facts and details to a person. You can find these supports in a wide variety of situations ranging from doctor's visits to a home health care worker updating a person on the day and date.
All three are essential components in life and work together for optimal health.
How Do You Identify The Lack Of Social Support?
One of the fastest ways to identify loneliness and the lack of social support is to simply talk to the person and ask them. While many seniors may not come out and admit they are lonely, they will provide many clues throughout their conversation. They may discuss how all their friends have died, or their family no longer lives nearby.
Another easy indicator is to look around and see how many interactions the person is having with the outside world. Just because someone is shut in does not always mean they are socially isolated. Some people have very involved networks of friends and family. They may have regular visitors or even home health caretakers.
Another giveaway comes when you consider their past activities. While some people may have been very active in their younger days, not everyone was. Some seniors enjoy spending their senior years less socially involved than others. While they may benefit from social supports available through home care services, these may not be as desirable to them as others.
Contact home care services for more information.