Comment From MomsFav: How can I best connect with my mom (a vibrant age 72), who lives hundreds of miles away and I fear may be feeling isolated and alone. I check in often and visit her during holidays and long weekends. What are some of the signs of isolation?
Rob Romasco: Staying as connected as you’d like with your mom and ensuring she feels connected over such a distance can be challenging.
There are things you can do, and recognizing the signs of isolation is a key first step.
Your instincts are a valuable alert system that your mother may be feeling isolated and lonely – and it’s good you’re paying such close attention.
Some of the primary risk factors for isolation are living alone, impaired mobility, lack of adequate and/or accessible transportation, and having a small social network.
Depression often results from isolation, so you can look for signs like decreased interest in things that once excited her.
If your mom doesn’t seem to have enough meaningful social interaction, you can contact agencies on aging, senior centers or houses of worship where she lives.
They may provide free or low-cost transportation, have day programs and activities, and friendly visitor programs.
You can also research other opportunities in the community that might appeal to her – like volunteering to do something she enjoys, peer social groups or arts/music classes.
Perhaps by providing your mother with these options and some gentle encouragement to participate in what interests her, you can help her stay engaged with people and vibrant. Other resources: createthegood.org, eldercare.gov and oasisnet.org.
Comment From Alieu: I really want to be a volunteer.
Rob Romasco: Thank you so much for your enthusiasm. AARP couldn’t do what it does without our wonderful volunteers! There are many ways you can give back by volunteering through AARP.
Whether it’s becoming a Driver Safety instructor to help drivers improve their skills and stay safe on the road or helping taxpayers directly, filing tax returns and helping them seek a refund through the AARP Foundation Tax-Aide program – we can help you get involved.
Try AARP’s Volunteer Wizard to match your interests with great ways to give back.
Comment From Michelle: There are several new websites that offer "private social networks" for caregivers – Lotsahelpinghands, Monarcares and Carezone among them – how do you choose and does AARP offer anything similar?
Rob Romasco: Setting up a private network can be very helpful in requesting help and in communicating to a network of family and friends to share updates and ask for help. We definitely recommend this use of technology to make things easier.
AARP has a tool on our Caregiving Resource Center called Many Strong that can help.
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