Older adults are lonely. This has been proven time and time again, in study after study. But oftentimes, the answer to this problem comes in the form of a better solution for family connection or increased caregiver presence. Here’s the trouble: like everyone else, older adults need time with people who understand their own unique set of interests and challenges -- they need to be enabled to spend time with other older adults.
By spending time with one another, older adults have the chance to connect with others who understand their specific challenges and limitations.
In a study about grandparents who are in a caregiving role, 88% of participants reported that having a group to rely on others in a similar situation was beneficial, and many even suggested that the group would be “age-segregated” so that grandparents would be able to draw from experiences within their own age group. What does this study tell us? That people find value in talking about their unique challenges with others who can relate to them.
Similarly, older adults should have the opportunity to socially engage with those who share their interests
Studies show that age is a significant factor in interests and social activities participated in. For example, older adults “spend greater amounts of time volunteering.” On the other hand, younger people “tend to eat out more and spend more time at work and in school.”
The problem of “burden”
Many older adults feel that they’re a “burden” on their families. In a recent study, it was found that older adults “discussed burden in relation to not wanting to complicate the busy lives of adult children, guilt about health problems, and concern that children were overly worried about the care of their older family member.” 77.2% of older adults reported their worries over being burdensome to their families. Of course, most families will agree that older adults and older adult parents are not a burden in any sense, however this feeling of being burdensome persists.
When older adults interact with one another, all parties benefit, eliminating any sense of guilt, pity or charity, and therefore paving the way for genuine and interesting conversation.
Of course, there are reasons older adults find it difficult to get out and meet each other. Unlike younger people, traveling itself can pose an inherent risk. For example:
The fear of falling can be so intense that some older adults “no longer wish to leave their home,” making it difficult to socialize.
Many older adults aren’t physically capable of driving, such as those that are vision impaired, however “the physical problems that can make driving difficult for older individuals can also make using public transportation difficult.”
It’s getting harder; in a span of five years, the “percent of rural residents without access to intercity transportation went from seven to eleven percent.”
Under such conditions, meeting new people is often next to impossible for older adults.
How we help
One way to help older adults connect with one another while addressing the transportation concern is through video chat. OneClick.chat is a novel video chat-based social engagement platform that helps mitigate social isolation and loneliness by joining individuals to stimulate social connectedness and a sense of purpose. Backed by research from an NIH grant, our platform was built by and for older adults.
To learn more about our live events platform, and what we do visit our website.