Nursing Interventions for Social Isolation in Older Adult Clients
Social isolation is one of the most common problems among older adults and can be caused by many factors. Cox (2002) listed change in mental status, alteration in physical status, altered state of wellness, unacceptable social behavior and values, and lack of social contacts as some of the main causes. Therefore, the nursing interventions for an older adult who is suffering from social isolation will be targeted towards these related factors.
Older adults’ change in mental status can become an obstacle in socializing because they might not be able to communicate their views properly. It would be important for the nurse to then be present for the older adult clients during social events to help communicate them better. The older adult clients with change in mental status can also join groups that don’t require using the skills that has been affected by their mental status change.
Alteration in physical status is another type of changes that all the older adults experience. Their physical appearance and level of physical capability deteriorates to an extent that it can potentially affect their social interactions with other people. This is when it becomes important that the nurse makes sure the older adult clients are properly groomed so they view themselves presentable to others.
Altered state of wellness can affect older adult clients like anybody else, but it can further add to the conditions described above to make older clients become more isolated. One of the most important nursing implications for such clients is that they get proper nutrition and prevented from infection. The older adult clients’ body is already fragile and has weakened immune system; once they are affected, it can make the older adult client sick.
An unacceptable behavior and values are not tolerated in any healthcare facilities where other people can be endangered of physical or emotional harm. If the older adult clients continue to demonstrate unacceptable behavior, they might be isolated from others to prevent before they harm others. These clients need proper supervision and evaluation to prevent any incidence of unacceptable behavior from occurring.
Lack of social contact is probably the most important factor contributing to the isolation of older adults. Wold (2008) states that many older adults simply outlive their families and other loved ones. Sometimes it is because either they or their relatives have relocated to a different place. Therefore, it becomes important that the nurse provide resources such as telephone and mail services for the older adult clients to make them stay in contact with their family and friends. A social lounge can also help older adult clients to interact with other clients.
In conclusion, social isolation in older adults can be due to altered mental and physical state, illness, lack of social contact and engaging in unacceptable behaviors. These older adult clients need nurses who are willing to provide one-on-one time when needed and opportunities for social interactions with other clients, able to supervise and evaluate the behaviors as well as physical and mental status, and can promote good diet and nutrition.