An active social life isn’t just for young people. Senior citizens also benefit from socialization.
Human beings are social creatures. It is a part of our survival. We thrive through cooperation with others. Social interactions influence our mental and emotional wellbeing. This has a direct influence on our overall health.
Elderly people are at a higher risk for medical conditions. They are also more likely to experience feelings of loneliness and depression. As we age, we tend to experience more life changes. One of the biggest is the loss of those around us. Physical limitations can make it difficult to expand our social circle. While loved ones grow older and pass away, many seniors find it challenging to meet new people and remain socially active.
If you or someone you love is a senior, it’s important to be proactive about being social. Find opportunities to meet people and connect with friends. Whether it’s in person or online, interactions can help us live happier, longer lives.
Why is an active social life an essential part of healthy aging?
- Social Seniors Tend to Be Mentally Healthier
An active social life encourages better mental health. It helps lower the risk of depression. Spending time with others prevents feelings of isolation.
Seniors who socialize regularly are less likely to experience feelings of despair and worthlessness. Mental health has a significant impact on a person’s physical wellness as well as their outlook on life. Many elderly adults decide to live in a retirement community because of the benefits of social interactions.
- Socializing Encourages Seniors to Be Physically Active
Seniors who are social are also more likely to be physically active. Getting out and meeting people makes us move around. Even if you aren’t doing exercise as a group specifically, just the act of going to an event or visiting a friend requires moving.
This can have a profound effect on overall health. Physical activity reduces the risk and impact of illnesses.
Research has found a link between isolation and loneliness and many common health conditions like obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, and a weakened immune system. Staying social will reduce your risk of these and other medical problems.
- Social Activities Nurture a Sense of Belonging
Being such social creatures, humans want to feel like they belong. A person’s sense of belonging can be shaken as they face life changes like the effects of getting older.
Socializing helps elderly adults feel like they have a place where they belong. It allows them to connect with peers or strengthen bonds with younger generations. Assisted living communities are a great place to inspire a sense of belonging. These places offer activities and events that residents can join with a group of peers. Seniors can find others who they can relate to with similar life experiences or meet people who are different, adding variety to life.
- Friends Help Us Lower Stress and Improve Mood
The effects of aging along with personal commitments and health changes can increase stress. Socializing helps seniors reduce stress and improves their mood.
Talking with a good friend can help a person relax. Discussing concerns and worries helps us work through these feelings. It gives us a way to vent and help our minds think clearer as we navigate life. Building friendships provide an outlet for seniors to find healthy ways to work through what they are feeling and experiencing.
- Socialization Can Boost a Senior’s Self-Worth
Friends and loved ones make us feel better about ourselves. Getting older can make it difficult or impossible to do the things we once did, like work or engage in hobbies. This can lead to feelings of worthlessness that may worsen as a person ages.
Everyone deserves to feel worthy of living. The people around us remind us of what makes us unique and valuable. They give us meaning in our lives. Friendship requires give and take. Being a part of that makes a person understand that they are needed and wanted.
- Gives Seniors a Stronger Support System
As loved ones pass away, many seniors find themselves with little to no support system. This can become a serious problem if they require assistance.
Some seniors may not realize that they need help until something bad happens, like a fall injury. Staying socially active helps fortify a person’s support system. Having more people in a senior’s life gives them more places to seek support if they need it. It also means that more people are around to notice if anything changes in an elderly person’s ability to care for themselves and live safely and comfortably.
- Those Around Us Help Us Live More Purposefully
Having a purpose helps many people wake up in the morning. It motivates us to keep going or look for opportunities to improve.
As seniors age, they sometimes feel like they have no purpose. They may no longer work and may not be able to do things that they used to do. Building friendships give us a purpose. These relationships require give and take, making both people feel needed. Having another person who cares about you will give you purpose.
Social events and interactions also give us something to be excited about. Anticipating an upcoming event or activity gives a senior something to look forward to, which helps us feel like we have a reason to exist and be present.
- Seniors Who Socialize Have Increased Cognitive Function
Seniors who socialize have increased cognitive function. They tend to perform better on related tests compared to those who have less interaction with close partners.
A study conducted at the Center for Healthy Aging at Penn State found that adults ages 70 to 90 who had pleasant social interactions showed better cognitive performance the same day or over the next two days following the interactions.
A six-year study published in 2013 also found that participants over age 65 who had more social interactions were less likely to develop dementia. In the study, social interactions included trying new things, reading the newspaper, and spending time with others.
Research has also indicated that quality is more important than quantity. Simply having a lot of friends isn’t enough. Seniors need to have meaningful interactions that involve give and take to get the benefits of being socially active.
- Social Interactions Inspire Positive Living in Seniors
Social interactions inspire seniors to live more positively. Older adults who build strong friendships tend to have a more positive outlook. They are usually happier and experience a better quality of life compared to those who are isolated.
Meeting others and building relationships exposes us to new ideas and experiences. These enrich a senior’s life and help them stay positive as they age.
- Socially Active Seniors Tend to Live Longer
Scientists have studied longevity for generations. Current data has shown that a varied social circle helps many seniors live longer. This is primarily because of the many other benefits that come with being socially active.
The University of Texas at Austin researchers found that older adults who interact with a broader range of people were more likely to be physically active and displayed improved emotional wellbeing. These factors can add years to a person’s lifespan.
Assisted Living Communities and Senior Social Lives
One of the best benefits of moving into an assisted living community is the social opportunities. These facilities place seniors among a group of peers with built-in activities. No travel is required to participate since most events and groups are hosted on-site.
If you would like to learn more about how assisted living can strengthen a senior’s social life, let us know. Visit Vista Living Senior Care now to get in touch or schedule a tour of our community.