Originally Published: September 22, 2012 9:59 p.m.
A lack of social interaction can become a significant problem for seniors. The passing of friends, and especially one's spouse, often results in a decreased desire to socialize. Health issues such as macular degeneration or dementia might require someone to hang up the car keys, thus curtailing their ability to visit with acquaintances,
attend meetings or participate in religious activities.
A decrease in social contact can lead to isolation, and can be particularly detrimental to those who are homebound. Lacking regular human contact, it is easy for one's physical and emotional health to become compromised. Many seniors might begin to neglect their nutritional needs. Others may become depressed, and more withdrawn.
Fortunately, numerous nonprofit organizations provide opportunities for social connection, helping to relieve isolation while assuring the well-being of those receiving help.
Sometimes all it takes is a regularly scheduled phone call or visit to keep someone connected to the outside world and remind them of their value. People Who Care and Neighbor to Neighbor utilize volunteers to provide services such as friendly phone calls or visits, as well as grocery shopping with or for someone, transportation to doctor appointments, and minor home repairs. If you are in need of these services or would like to become a volunteer for these programs, call 445-2480 in Prescott, 636-3295 in Chino Valley, (928) 231-9341 in Yarnell, Skull Valley, Wilhoit, Peeples Valley, Congress and Bagdad, or 775-6145 in Prescott Valley and the surrounding areas.
For those in need of nutritional meals, there are Meals on Wheels programs available throughout the extended Prescott area. These programs help older people and homebound adults stay in their homes safely and with dignity. Eligibility is determined by numerous factors, only one of which might include income level. A person who is not eligible based on income may qualify for home-delivered meals if they are unable to shop for food or prepare meals for themselves. A physical condition or illness that prevents someone from standing long enough to cook a meal can be a qualifying reason.
Specially trained volunteers deliver meals up to five days a week, as well as frozen meals to carry people through the weekend. In addition to receiving a nutritious meal, a critical component of the program involves verifying the well-being of the meal recipient. On numerous occasions in our local communities, a Meals on Wheels volunteer has been responsible for summoning emergency medical care for someone who had fallen or become ill, who was unable to answer the door. Had it not been for the arrival of the volunteer driver, these meal recipients may not have received the medical attention they needed. To get more information about our local Meals on Wheels programs, call 772-3337 in Prescott Valley and the surrounding areas, 445-7630 in Prescott, and 636-9114 in the extended Chino Valley area.
If you know a senior, or if you are a senior yourself, who is feeling isolated and in need of human contact, please reach out for it. Help is available. You are not alone!
Debbie Stewart is the co-founder of the Senior Connection, a resource for seniors and family caregivers. She offers the "Caregiver Connection" Newsletter, Senior Resources On-Line Directory, Speakers Bureau and Senior Resources Conference & Expo. For a free email subscription to the newsletter, visit www.SeniorConnection.us or contact Debbie@SeniorConnection.us or 778-3747.