It’s easier than you think. Start with an Isolation Assessment from Connect2Affect, a project sponsored by the AARP Foundation. It will help identify risk factors and provide suggestions to help loved ones get more connected.

Following are a few tips to help you ensure your loved ones stay healthier and happier.

Keep an eye out for seniors who may be isolated. This is the first step in getting them help. Are they really “fine,” as they say, or are they starting to shut themselves off?

Help them address incontinence. This can of course make people hesitant to leave home. But it can be addressed, enabling seniors to travel freely without fear.

Encourage seniors to form a positive body image. If a trip to the barber or hairdresser or clothes shopping helps them feel better, so be it. The aim is to be positive and encouraging.

Give extra support to seniors who have lost someone close. This can make all the difference. It can also encourage a healthy grieving process rather than a spiral into depression and isolation.

Test hearing and vision. People with hearing or vision issues may avoid social situations.

Encourage attendance at church. This weekly social connection can be beneficial because it offers interaction and sense of purpose.

Help them find something to care about. The peer-reviewed paper “Emotional Benefits of Dog Ownership” notes that pet owners “remain engaged socially, have less depression, suffer less loneliness, feel more secure, have more motivation for the constructive use of time and require less medication than non-pet owners.”

Give them affection. Hugs are great medicine, and research shows that friendly platonic touching from family, like hand-holding or hugging, can lower stress and promote feelings of wellbeing.

Help caregivers. Caregiving itself can actually trigger social isolation. Caregivers may not call doctors when they are sick and may have little or no time to exercise or eat well. Up to 70% of caregivers have clinically significant symptoms of depression. If you’re a caregiver, be sure to take care of yourself. If you know one, do what you can to help.

Make sure transportation is available. While family can offer rides, many towns and counties offer vans and buses, and Uber and Lyft are very convenient.

Talk to the neighbors and give them your number. Trusted neighbors can be introduced to your senior. Ask them to let you know if anything seems amiss.

Promote a sense of purpose. Local senior centers offer many activities and events; volunteering can help them maintain their sense of purpose and keep them from becoming isolated and lonely.

To find out more, including information about short stay and respite visits, call 386-756-3480 or visit CountrySide Lakes today. CountrySide Lakes, a Shepherd Senior Living Community, has been voted best independent and assisted living six years in a row.