The Social Fabric of Aging Parents

Preserving and nurturing social connections is vital to the well being of older adults.

Families need to understand the scope and depth of an aging parent’s social network so they can coordinate their efforts to protect and support it. That is why we created the Social Fabric Mind Map.

(Click here for a PDF version of he Social Fabric Mind Map)

The Social Fabric Mind Map offers families a one page diagram of activities and connections. Once completed, it helps families sustain the social fabric in four ways:

It reduces the burden and risks of not knowing the big picture. The Social Fabric Mind Map provides everyone involved with the care of an aging parent with an up to date roster of social connections. Many times this information is fuzzy, incomplete or only known by a few.

It reduces the burden of caregiving handoffs. The Social Fabric Mind Map offers a quick reference guide for other family members who want to lend a hand with transportation, visits, or other tasks. It is especially helpful for coordinating last minute change of plans.

It reduces the burden of integrating social connections information. The Social Fabric Mind Map serves as an information hub for organizing and sharing operational updates for the family and other members of the caregiving team.

It reduces the burden of orchestrating a social network crisis. The Social Fabric Mind Map becomes an invaluable resource for coordinating a response to a breakdown or loss.

How to use the Social Fabric Mind Map

Set up a map for an aging parent, and use it to develop a social activity calendar. Provide copies to other family members and ask for comments and revisions.

Use the completed map to develop a transportation schedule.

Provide copies of the completed map to important social activity contacts.

Fax or email a copy of the Social Fabric Mind Map to all providers on the team. The document will become part of the aging parent’s medical file and indicate your interest in supporting the integration of health information. Use the same protocol for any significant change in the social activities you feel other providers should know about.