Social Engagement Critical in Senior Care


Thanks to Marc Onigman in National Senior Living Providers Network for bringing a medical study to my attention.  The information is not really “news” to those of us in the senior home care industry, but it is always good to spotlight it.

When we do an assessment (free, of course) of a new client at Support For Home, we cover three areas:

  1. Homemaker Services — Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) and Instrumental ADLs (IADLs) in the home
  2. Companion Services — ADLs and IADLs that involve our interfaces with others and outside the home
  3. Personal Services — ADLs and IADLs such as bathing, dressing, toileting

As we discuss the second category, we frequently observe a much smaller social calendar and circle of friends and acquaintances than is “healthy.”  Of course, that is not surprising, since, as we age, we tend to lose family members and friends.  The challenge is for our clients, hopefully with our help, to renew and rebuild that circle.  If my friend Joe and I never get together any more, because neither one of us drives, that can easily be and must be “fixed.”  A truly Comprehensive Plan of Care must be as focused on number 2, above, as on 1 and 3.

The study is as cautious as all of them are, in terms of cause and effect, but reports,

In a pooled analysis of 148 studies, having strong social relationships was associated with a 50% greater likelihood of surviving through follow-up (OR 1.50, 95% CI 1.42 to 1.59), according to Julianne Holt-Lunstad, PhD, of Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, and colleagues.

The magnitude of the association puts social relationships on a par with quitting smoking and beyond obesity and physical inactivity in terms of relationship with mortality, the researchers reported in the July issue of PLoS Medicine.

In the senior care industry, we must all put even more emphasis on this issue and look for creative ways to increase social interaction and relationships for our clients and patients.  It is not just a matter of quality of life.  It looks pretty clear it is about quantity of life.
Best wishes, Bert

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