Why Social Connection is Especially Important For Older People
While we all have an innate need for meaningful social engagement, it plays an even more vital role in older adults’ quality of life. Consistent social connection can help keep older adults physically, emotionally and mentally fit.
The significant health benefits of social connection include:
A Sense of Purpose
For people who spent years pursuing their careers or raising families, the post-retirement life may lead to a decreased sense of purpose. Being an active part of a social community can help fill the need for belonging and meaning.
Positive interaction with different age groups on a regular basis may combat feelings of isolation. When older adults live in the close company of others, they can feel a sense of self-worth and meaning, and find it easier to develop peer relationships, too.
Better Physical Health
When older adults are invited, accompanied and encouraged by others to engage in physical activity, it can have a positive effect on their physical well-being. Organized activities like group exercise classes can help boost the immune system, decrease physical pain and lower blood pressure. Even taking a short walk within the community to meet up with friends can help maintain physical fitness.
Better Mental Health
Older adults who are frequently lonely or isolated may experience negative mental and physical effects. On the other hand, seniors who are socially engaged on a regular basis may be less likely to experience feelings of depression, stress and anxiety.
The National Institute on Aging (NIA) explains that healthy individuals who experience social well-being may have lower levels of interleukin-6, which is typically found in age-related disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular disease, and even some forms of cancer.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, remaining socially active can reduce risk for depression, as well as support brain health and potentially even delay the onset of dementia. Overall, staying socially active can create a positive impact on both mental and physical health.
How Older Adults Can Cultivate a Healthy Social Life
As we grow older, staying socially active doesn’t happen on its own. Commitment, support, and diligence are required to foster meaningful connection.
Here are a few ways seniors can experience the health benefits of being social:
- Participate in volunteer work, especially within the local community
- Take advantage of community resources such as religious organizations
- Join interest-based clubs and organizations
- When you can’t do so in person, connect virtually with friends, family, and neighbors via computer, phone, or tablet using Skype, FaceTime, WhatsApp, Zoom or Google Hangouts.
How Senior Living Can Help
The most practical way to create a healthy social life will largely depend on you and your family’s unique situation. If you’re concerned about an aging family member’s risk for isolation, we are here for you whenever you need us.
Senior living communities built around care, understanding, and compassion and can serve as an antidote to the isolation that many people face. With daily opportunities to engage with peers and caregivers, our community is designed to offer your family member a sense of belonging and purpose.
Our community offers a wide array of social opportunities every day. Reach out to learn more.