Aging With Grace: How a Strong Social Life Protects the Health and Wellness of Seniors 

Mar 5, 2024

There’s no doubt about it – socializing is important at any age, no matter your personality type. As you age, though, it becomes especially critical to have regular social interaction to keep your mind and body healthy.

Many seniors find their social life declines as they get older. The primary reasons are that friends and acquaintances move or pass away, and they may not be able to get around as easily. The result is that they end up spending more and more time alone at home. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

How socializing can improve your health

When you make a point to interact with others on a regular basis, your brain and body reap many benefits. Below are just a few examples.

Socializing keeps you active

Getting together with friends and family is not only something to look forward to, but it also gives you motivation to get up and get moving. Whether it’s attending an event with others or meeting up for dinner or a game of mini golf, a planned outing is a great excuse to leave home for a bit and stay active.

Of course, enjoying visits with family and close friends are ideal ways to socialize, but you should also consider broadening your social horizons too. According to a recent study published by Harvard Health, “older adults who interacted with people beyond their usual social circle of family and close friends were more likely to have higher levels of physical activity, greater positive moods, and fewer negative feelings.” This is good news for those living in senior living communities, who have ample opportunity to mingle with lots of different people at any time.

Socializing can reduce the risk of dementia

There’s lots of research that points to social isolation as a contributing factor to Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. On the flip side, evidence also suggests that having a healthy social life can potentially help you lower your risk of dementia.

A recent study by the University College London found that talking and interacting with friends daily can lead to significant cognitive benefits for seniors, keeping their brains healthier for longer.

“It is most likely that social contact is beneficial by building cognitive reserve, meaning greater resilience against the damage which occurs in conditions like dementia, so that people have well-developed language and memory skills which help them cope for longer and delay the problems caused by dementia,” said Dr. Andrew Sommerlad, lead author of the study.

Socializing can improve mental health

Maintaining good mental health is more important than ever to ensure the health and wellness of seniors. It’s no secret that seniors who don’t socialize regularly often struggle with poor mental health. After time, these issues can even lead to physical ailments.

However, one of the best ways to solve this problem is through regular social interaction and relationship-building. According to the Journal of Health and Social Behavior article “Social Relationships and Health: A Flashpoint for Health Policy,” the social support you receive from friends and family can positively impact your mental health in a number of ways, including reducing the impact of stress and bringing a sense of purpose to life.

How to stay social as you age

If your social life isn’t what it used to be, it’s not too late to make some changes. There are lots of ways to improve your social life. Here are just a few examples.

  • Visit with family

Being with family is one of the easiest ways to start being more social. If you can arrange in-person visits, that’s great, and if not, consider using technology to stay connected with family members who live further away.

  • Share interests with others

Take initiative and get involved in a group with a shared interest. It could be anything – flower arranging, gardening, reading, writing, birding, and the list goes on. Find an organization or club that enjoys your hobby together. This can help you meet new people and foster your shared interests together in a fun way.

  • Volunteer

Have a cause you’re passionate about? What about your faith? Try volunteering with a related organization. This can help give you a sense of purpose and fulfillment, and it’s a great way to connect with others you wouldn’t normally interact with.

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