Why It’s Important That Seniors Have a Social Life
Socialization plays a lot of vital roles in our lives, including fostering relationships, establishing good communication skills, and promoting a sense of community. As we age, the importance of socialization doesn't wear off — in fact, it only becomes more important for our overall health.
Why Is Socializing Important?
Staying social as we age has multiple physical and mental benefits.
DECREASED DEPRESSION IN SENIORS
Today, social isolation remains one of the leading causes of depression in seniors. Loneliness can easily take its toll on individuals of every age, but there's a greater concern for older adults as routines and independence change. Seniors also face a bigger risk of loneliness than other age groups after the death of a spouse or close friend. Interacting with others can offer something to look forward to every day while also providing connections that are so important to overall well-being.
IMPROVED COGNITIVE FUNCTION
Multiple studies have linked socialization with improved cognitive function, including a recent one that found that seniors who socialized retained their episodic memory better than groups that didn’t. If you can combine your social gatherings with aerobic exercise, you can boost these benefits further. One study found that aerobic exercise can reduce those instances when you can’t quite find the word you’re trying to say. You’ll also feel happier afterward, thanks to the increase in endorphins that exercise provides. This improved cognitive function can actually aid in the slowing of memory loss, giving you a sharper mind and more positive experiences.
REDUCED RISK OF DEMENTIA
Socializing can provide a number of benefits to your physical and mental health. But did you know that connecting with friends and family may also boost your brain health and lower your risk of dementia? This is thought to be made possible through an increase in connections between brain cells, which helps the brain become more resilient in the face of Alzheimer's. The counter-effect to social isolation also keeps depression at bay, which has been thought to increase dementia.
BETTER PHYSICAL HEALTH
Seniors who are more social are typically more active. Increased physical activity not only bolsters brain health, but it helps keep you moving, which has been linked to living a longer life.
Older adults with active social lives can also prevent a number of physical ailments from negatively impacting their overall health. When seniors maintain an active physical regimen with friends and neighbors, they reap the reward in terms of improved physical health as they age. Among the greatest benefits of physical activity are the following:
Lower blood pressure
Reduced risk of cardiovascular problems
Reduced risk of osteoporosis and rheumatoid arthritis
Potentially reduce the risk of Alzheimer's
Potentially reduce the risk of mental health issues
Adults of all ages are encouraged to remain physically active to maintain healthy body weights, cardiovascular strength, and boost muscle strength. The same factors apply to older adults and can significantly boost the overall health of seniors as they age. More importantly, seniors who remain physically and intellectually active in social settings can also help fight off depression through interaction.
Family and Social Interactions with Older Adults
As we age, family gatherings become all the more important as seniors look for engaging ways to socialize and be involved in the world outside of the house. For many seniors, that looks like watching grandchildren on the weekends, going out to eat for dinner, or taking a walk with the family. These activities not only keep people active as they age but offer a sense of purpose.
If you aren't located near your family, or you have a senior parent who lives far away, you might consider a senior living community in the near future. These communities are not just places for individuals who need care — they are also for seniors who need social opportunities that they may not be able to find in their current living situation.
Benefits of Senior Living Communities for Socialization
Find an assisted living or nursing home that provides a variety of social activities and amenities for its residents can help you lead a full, happy life as you age. These communities offer older adults the emotional, physical, and social activities they need to remain healthy.
Common examples of social activities in community centers include:
Outings arranged by staff
Game days/ nights
Movie days/ nights
Meals together with friends
Best of all, these communities offer everyone peace of mind. Older adults can benefit from the active social life they enjoy, physically, spiritually, and mentally, while allowing family and friends to rest easy knowing their loved ones have a safe, happy environment to call home.
Source: Why It’s Important That Seniors Have a Social Life (walkermethodist.org)