5 Reasons Why Seniors Need to Stay Social
Socialization is a fundamental activity for every individual, but even more so during your golden years. As you age, you become exposed to plenty of situations that reduce your ability and availability to socialize. This includes:
- Grief over the death of a loved one.
- Transitioning to senior living communities.
- Physical mobility issues and other chronic diseases that prevent you from going out.
- Financial problems.
- Taking on the responsibility of primary caretaker of a sick spouse.
- Moving to a new community for inability to live independently.
All these factors and more contribute to your decreasing social life. Over time, this will then give way for social isolation to creep in, which is as serious as any mental and physical health risk. In fact, social isolation makes you more vulnerable to other diseases like cognitive decline, dementia, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
Over the years, several scientific studies have proven the importance of healthy social interactions to your senior life. Here are five science-backed benefits of it to your physical, mental, and social well-being.
1. Boost Brain Health
As you get older, it is normal to experience age-related brain decline, like forgetting some things or taking more time to process a thought.
However, you do not have to endure and succumb to brain deterioration if you can do something about it. One way to slow down and prevent cognitive decline is to maintain an active social life.
Social interactions act as an exercise for your brain, keeping it active and mentally stimulated. Constant engagements allow the mind to enhance its cognitive abilities, like speech, thinking, concentration, and memory. As a senior, some of the things you can do to boost brain health through socialization include:
- Play interactive games with grandkids or fellow elderly.
- Join mind-stimulating social activities in your senior community.
- Continue your education through online classes.
- Join a book club to discuss your favorite novels with fellow book lovers.
- Start a blog and virtually interact with your followers.
There are plenty of creative ways to stay connected with others. You just have to think of one you and your loved one will enjoy while bonding with each other.
2. Reduce Risk for Mental Problems
Depression and other mental health problems are common to older adults more than you think. In fact, more than seven million seniors in America experience depression each year. And that’s just for those who have reported it and sought professional help.
Doctors handling these cases treat elderlies with counseling, behavioral therapy, medications, and a recommendation to be more socially active.
Further, several studies had proven that building strong social relationships significantly help seniors prevent falling into the traps of mental illnesses because:
- Socializing with your loved ones makes you happy and accepted.
- It allows emotional support.
- It lets you express yourself and voice out the thoughts in your mind.
- It increases one’s self-worth and self-esteem.
3. Protects the Brain from Alzheimer’s Disease
Besides mental health problems, staying socially active also preserves the brain’s health by protecting it from various brain disorders. This includes:
- Dementia and its other forms.
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Mild cognitive impairment or MCI
- Brain inflammation or injury due to another chronic illness
These neurodegenerative diseases can develop due to various factors, which include stagnant brain activity.
Moreover, research revealed that loneliness and social isolation increase your risk of developing dementia. Plus, these two unhealthy feelings can contribute to your brain deterioration, progressing dementia into a more damaging illness called Alzheimer’s disease.
So, start joining the social activities offered in senior living communities if you want to preserve your brain’s health.
4. Manages Stress
Everybody has a different tolerance level for stress. Some may endure through it, while others may break down at just the slightest appearance of a stressful situation. Unfortunately, most seniors tend to have very little resilience against stress. They cannot cope with it as effectively as they did during their younger years.
However, you can change this response by engaging in healthy social relationships to manage stress better. In fact, socialization directly prevents and combats stress by:
- Stimulating your happy hormones and decreasing your anxiety levels. Thus, allowing you to be more confident in dealing with your stressor.
- Taking your mind off your stressor, thus worrying less than you should be.
- Having someone to lean on and take away the stress by listening to your worries.
- Helping you get over your stressor and finding ways to cope with it.
- Having a trusted person emotionally assist you through hard times decreases stress levels significantly.
Lower levels of stress also protect you from other chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, obesity, heart problems, and hypertension.
5. Improves Physical Health
Having an active social life not only impacts your mental and emotional wellness but also enhances your physical fitness. Social activities may not count as a form of formal exercise, but most activities get you up and moving, so there is really little difference.
Further, most physical workouts can become a social one if you want them to. This includes:
- Going to the gym with a friend or befriending another gym-goer.
- Striking a conversation in the fitness center with fellow seniors and making new friends.
- Inviting fellow senior living residents to walk around the community.
- Cycle, jog or enroll in an online fitness class with your loved one.
Moreover, having a friend or loved one to accompany, you will be more motivated to attend your gym classes and achieve your fitness goal. You get to bond with your loved one while strengthening your immune system and physique. So, what’s not to love?
These are just some of the many benefits of having an active social life. There’s no downside to it, so get out there and start being a social butterfly in your own way.
Whether you live alone or reside in a senior living community, there’s always a way to stay connected with others. You can get the help of technology to reach your distant family. Or expand your social circle by meeting new people through volunteering efforts.