While it may seem like a normal part of aging, the effects of isolation can actually be devastating to seniors, affecting not only their quality of life but also their overall health. Learn why it’s so important for older adults to stay socially active, and discover some ideas on how to get going today. It’s easier than you might think.
What are the risks of social isolation for seniors?
It’s no surprise that loneliness is a direct result of being isolated. But it may surprise you to learn that this can actually affect your health — from increasing your risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and depression to decreasing your cognitive function (which increases your risk of Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia). For seniors, the lack of social interaction increases the risk of premature death, no matter the cause.
So why do older adults stop socializing? The reasons are many. Many seniors live alone, and find it’s more difficult to stay socially active, especially if friends and family don’t live nearby. Fixed incomes can limit participation in activities; so can medical challenges that limit time out in public. Transportation to and from social events can also play a part. If you or a senior you know no longer has any interest in doing things you/they used to love, it can be a sign of depression, which is common without social interaction (even for active adults with chronic medical conditions).
What are the health benefits of socializing?
If you’ve ever wondered why socialization is important for seniors, just take a look at the active adults you know compared to the older adults who remain inactive. The benefits are clear — improved health, happiness, and an overall better quality of life. While the physical benefits of staying active as you age are many, there are also important mental health benefits from staying socially active, such as:
· Emotional support
· Improved mood
· Decreased anxiety
· Improved cognitive skills and memory support
· Longer lifespan
5 ways to become more socially active today.
It’s never too late to start socializing. If you’re looking for ways to connect, but you’re not sure where to start, here are a few ideas:
· Take a class or join a club.
Is there something you’ve always wanted to try or learn? Now’s the time! Stretch your legs for a dance class or travel to new places in a book club. Whether it’s a physical activity or not, just connecting with other people over a shared interest helps maintain your cognitive skills — and can lead to new friendships.
· Plan a regular get-together with friends.
Start a routine with your closest friends, like a once-a-week or monthly game night. You’ll all have something to look forward to, and it’s a fun way to stay engaged with others. It can also help take your mind off things that are bothering you, reducing the stress and anxiety that can impact your health.
· Volunteer for a local organization.
Seniors have the gift of experience, and there are so many organizations that need your help. Match your interests with a local group to stay socially active. This will give you a renewed sense of purpose, when you know you’re helping others in need.
· Adopt a dog, or help take care of one.
An easy way to stay active is simply taking your dog out for a daily walk. You’ll both get fresh air and exercise, and you’ll have a loving companion to warm your heart. If your living situation doesn’t allow dogs (or you don’t want the full-time responsibilities), consider volunteering for a nearby shelter.
· Bring opportunities closer to home by joining an active retirement community.
One of the greatest benefits of a retirement community is convenient access to a range of activities and socializations for seniors without ever having to leave home. Active adults are able to enjoy everything from on-site fitness classes and cultural events to a variety of nature-inspired outdoor spaces to explore.
Senior living communities can improve social interaction for seniors.
Today’s senior living communities aren’t like those of days past — they’re designed to help older adults lead active, fulfilling lives. With services like transportation, on-site dining and maintenance, and even on-site health care, these communities make it possible for seniors to remove worries from their life and enjoy their favorite activities even more.
For abundant social opportunities, no matter what level of living you need, explore an Eagle Senior Living community near you. Contact us today to learn more about our activities for older adults and focus on putting people first, which helps improve quality of life.