HEALTHY MIND MATTERS

The importance of checking in on the ‘forgotten population’

Dec 20, 2022, 6:54 PM | Updated: Dec 22, 2022, 4:04 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — As the days get shorter and the snow lingers, it becomes hard for older adults to do activities outside of the house, which can lead to loneliness and isolation.

Dr. Joseph Kim, Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Utah School of Medicine said loneliness and social isolation can lead to serious health risks including dementia, stroke, heart disease, and premature death.

“Social isolation is such a big risk factor for mental health problems,” Kim said.

He said it’s crucial for people to check in on the older adults in their lives, by physically visiting them or by video.

“Because older adults are particularly at risk of social isolation during winter months it’s very important to provide social connectedness, so they don’t feel lonely,” Kim said.

The Liberty Senior Center in Salt Lake City offers activities for seniors year-round to stay socially connected.

“It’s just delightful coming here,” said Phyllis Harries, a senior who has attended the Liberty Senior Center for 12 years.

They’ve been bringing in the holiday spirit with a holiday party and Christmas dinner.

“I tell all my friends about it, because the dinner is delightful,” Harries said.

Events like these are crucial because winter months tend to be some of the loneliest months for older adults.

“This is one of my favorite places to be because there is live music, there’s entertainment, people to visit, everything about it is two thumbs up,” said Allison Dieterle, a senior who has attended the center for four years.

There are sixteen senior centers across Utah that offers events like this. You can get more information here.

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The importance of checking in on the ‘forgotten population’