Visiting with your senior loved ones is not only rewarding, but it leads to a myriad of benefits. The obvious upside is the emotional pickup we get when we visit family members we care about, and the boost they get from being reminded we love them, but the benefits are more tangible, too. According to a review of studies in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, social isolation has been associated with cognitive decline, decline in health, depression, increased rates of infection and even mortality — dangers that are even more pronounced in seniors.
Maintaining communication and visiting with the seniors in our lives can help ward off these detrimental effects. Learn more about how to keep our senior loved ones feeling young and happy through these six benefits:
Visits give you a chance to evaluate their health, safety and well-being.
Perhaps the most important reason to visit loved ones is the chance to check up on their happiness and health, and make sure nothing has changed to concern you since the last time you saw them. If they suffer from chronic illness, how are they coping? Do they need extra help with care, chores, finances or medications? Do they just need a little encouragement to ensure healthy nutrition and fitness?
Visits can help you prevent elder abuse.
If your senior loved one lives alone, a visit can clue you in to any signs of self-neglect, if they are having trouble caring for themselves—whether the issue is declining cognition, health or mobility. If they have home care assistance or live in senior housing, a visit is the perfect time to make sure their living situation is keeping them happy and healthy. Learn the signs of common health problems as well as markers of abuse, so that you can detect any problems early.
Visits with family can help bring back positive memories.
Visits also serve as a time to reminisce about past happy get-togethers with family. Albums, conversation, home videos, music and photos can prompt nostalgia. These memory prompts can be beneficial to those with dementia and memory loss, too — many of our strongest memories are connected with the sights, smells and sounds of visits which can bring back these happy times for our senior loved ones and ourselves.
Visits help the elderly stay emotionally engaged.
Just as visits can bring back positive memories, there are times when they can get us down, too, especially if your senior family member lives alone or is grieving a spouse. A visit from loved ones can help everyone stay connected and feel less lonely, especially far-flung family members, and can ward off any depression, social isolation or stress.
Visits remind your family that you love them.
It may feel like a given, but sometimes it takes your physical presence to make your loved ones happy. Taking time out to spend with them throughout the year is a valuable reminder that you love them and are thinking of them even when you’re not able to be around. Let them know that you care about their long-term well-being.
Visits help us create new experiences and memories for the future.
Just as reminiscing can help our older loved ones feel young and happy, taking the time to create new cherished memories will ensure that the entire family has good times to look back on in the future. Visits can do just that, whether it’s a cheerful and memorable party, a quiet group stroll or simply the joys of getting the family together for food and fun.
So, there’s no excuse to not visit a senior loved one, in person or virtually, and the benefits are enormous. Visiting loved ones makes them happy, makes you happy, and is key to keeping them feeling young — even though the years may claim otherwise.