Aging in Place with Grace

The Connections We Make Playing Bingo

Believe it or not, Bingo can play a very large role in successfully aging in place! “Aging in place is a term used to describe the act of living in the residence of choice as you age while securing the necessary support & services in response to your changing personal needs.” (Source:  Aging in place literally means remaining in your home for as long as you possibly can.  While we all seem to think this is what we would naturally want, there can be serious detractors in choosing this option.

One of these detractors is social isolation and it is also one that aging in place experts take very seriously when discussing the option of remaining in the home as aging occurs.  Social isolation can develop when continuing to live at home causes a lack of communication with others.  This results in the older adult feeling lonely due to the loss of contact or companionship, as well as a deficit of close and genuine communication with others.  It can also be the self-perception of being alone even when one is in the company of other people.

The causes of social isolation are many.  Retirement, death of a spouse or significant other, health problems and even reduced income can create situations where one becomes separated from social contacts.  The key here, however, is how we choose to respond to these changes and our responses can make the difference in creating a positive or negative result.

It doesn’t matter if we retire, have health issues, if we experience a loss of a loved one or even have to learn with less income and unless we live in a residence that offers activities and transportation, having the ability to connect with others is crucial to avoiding any type of isolation. Ensuring that we have transportation to allow us to make these connections is also crucial.

How can this be reversed or avoided?  Participating in a wide range of relationships and activities is a great start.  While it may not seem that your grandmother is doing anything other than playing bingo, in reality, she is making valuable social connections that, in the long run, will help keep her mentally (and physically) healthy.  She talks to others about herself, her community, her family and other things that are important to her and the people she talks to listen to her.

Older adults who volunteer their time, actively participate in family experiences and make new and retain old friendships are far less likely to experience depression, to develop health problems and will most likely practice good mental and physical health habits because of the interaction with others.

Having the ability to get to where the social interactions occur, whether church, bingo or a birthday party, is something I ask all who are considering remaining in their home as they age to think about ahead of time.  I also ask what it is that they think they cannot live without.  Transportation is usually the key to retaining what is vitally important to them.  If, for example, your health or eyesight don’t allow you to drive yourself, you will need the availability of public or private transportation (or some good friends!) to ensure you will get to where you want to go.  Avoiding social isolation should be at the top of everyone’s  list of “important things to consider” when planning ahead to age in place.

For more information about social isolation read my article:

The What, When, Why and How of Social Isolation and Aging in Place

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