Helping Your Loved One Find Purpose Within Their Community

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Helping Your Loved One Find Purpose Within Their Community

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A big challenge for caregivers has always been keeping our aging loved ones active and engaged. The pandemic made this even more difficult. Sadly, studies show that loneliness and social isolation can be as harmful to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.  

And while we must take current safety precautions into account, it’s incredibly important for both the physical and mental health of our loved ones that we help them find ways to stay connected. Fortunately, there is a resource readily available that can help those you care for feel this way: their community.

Below, you’ll find different types of local resources as well as some advice on how to help your loved ones access them.

Volunteering

Most communities offer access to a variety of groups such as senior centers, libraries, and faith-based organizations that can provide engaging activities from book clubs to volunteer groups. These types of social programs not only keep older adults connected with others who share similar interests but also keep their brains stimulated and provide a sense of purpose. Purpose is essential to everyone’s overall health and well-being. It is particularly important for aging adults who sometimes struggle in this area — and what better way to achieve purpose than through pursuing their interests?   

Encourage your loved ones to join volunteer groups to help them not only stay connected but also contribute to meaningful projects. According to research published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, adults over 50 who volunteer have an improved sense of well-being compared to individuals who do not, so this is a great way to both build connection and be active. Looking for inspiration on where to start? Check out organizations like AmeriCorps Seniors, VolunteerMatch, or Points of Light, which each offer community-matching programs to empower older adults with unique opportunities while giving back. 

Socializing

Social clubs are another great way for older adults to stay connected. Suggest to your loved ones the possibility of joining a local group, whether that be bowling, cooking, gardening, or another interest. Regardless of the club, these activities allow older adults the opportunity to connect with like-minded people and form meaningful connections.

Moreover, the friendships they’ll form from socializing are proven to improve physical and mental health. Studies have found that socializing can strengthen our immune system, help us recover quickly from illness, sharpen our memory, and even help us live longer. When it comes to building their social circle, find people who are supportive of their health and share similar interests. While nurturing friendships takes effort, it’s worth the benefits received for years to come.

Intergenerational programming

Getting out in the community can be more fun when you have company — but caregivers have their own needs to attend to and may not always be available. 

Increasingly, communities are adopting intergenerational programming and companionship services. For example, some Aetna® Medicare plans offer access to Papa Pals. This program pairs older adults with youthful adult companions who can: provide services, like transportation; help with light household chores; and give technology lessons through in-person or virtual visits.

Finding community-based social programs

Being part of a vast network makes a difference — caregivers often understand this better than anyone. Taking advantage of the many resources and activities in your community will help you and those you love develop strong connections that have a lasting impact on your well-being.

Not sure where to start? Try visiting your local library or senior center and asking if they can help point you in the right direction. Aetna members and their caregivers may also get personalized help from the Resources For Living® telephone referral service. Consultants at Resources For Living are on tap to help you and your loved ones research and access community options that suit them. 

Lastly, any new endeavor can be more enjoyable and focused when it’s turned into a game. For those who might need some additional inspiration, try passing along this Keeping It Local bingo card to encourage your loved ones to stay active while taking advantage of their community. 


For more information visit: https://i.care.ly/aetna-medicare.

See Evidence of Coverage for a complete description of plan benefits, exclusions, limitations and conditions of coverage. Plan features and availability may vary by service area. 

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