The Importance of Socialization for Seniors
Perhaps no period in recent history has magnified the need for and importance of socialization more than the COVID-19 pandemic. The forced isolation people of all ages experienced led to increases in stress, anxiety, depression, and took a toll on physical health. Lack of stimulation in older adults can also lead to memory loss and certain forms of dementia.
Even in normal times, seniors are prone to experiencing long periods of isolation for a variety of reasons. They may have mobility or cognitive limitations or live alone after the loss of a spouse. They may have given up driving or don’t have easy access to public transportation. And often, their adult children live out of town. Whatever the reason older adults are unable to socialize, there’s no escaping the negative effects isolation can have on senior well-being.
If you’re concerned about your own lack of socialization or that of a loved one, we’d like to share some food for thought about the health benefits of older adult socialization and tips for identifying new ways to connect.
Staying Social Is Good Medicine.
So how does chatting with a friend over coffee make you healthier exactly? Research has shown that for older adults, a strong social life and a supportive circle of friends can fend off many cognitive, emotional and physical issues that can arise from isolation. Older adults who regularly socialize handle stress better — and as we’ve learned, lowering stress levels improves cardiovascular health and enhances one’s immune system.
With today’s technology, even if you aren’t computer savvy, you can stay connected. Have a friend or family member set up your smartphone with a video meeting app like Skype or Google Duo. Then schedule regular video chats with grandkids and friends and socialize right from your easy chair. It’s also a super way for your adult children to “bring” you to a grandchild’s soccer game or birthday party.
Staying connected can also help you live longer, enhance your self-esteem, and improve the way you feel about yourself. Just knowing that people care about you and your welfare is wonderful medicine.
Connecting with Friends Improves Brain Health.
There have also been many studies done that show the important connection between socialization and cognitive health. Meeting with friends to catch up, share your thoughts, or discuss the latest news or book you’ve read are all excellent ways to stay intellectually stimulated and mentally sharp. Adding in an invigorating walk in the park while you chat is even better.
Pursuing a new hobby that involves meeting with a group is also a great way to stimulate your brain and connect with new people. Try a watercolor painting class or take up tai chi — or learn how to play bridge or chess and get the added benefit of stimulating your reasoning ability. Any group activity will help you meet new friends and add a recurring to-do on your weekly schedule.
Volunteering is another fulfilling way to socialize. When you work at a pet shelter or hospital gift shop or other organization, you stay engaged, and you have the chance to help others, which in turn helps you feel valued and needed.
Live Your Very Best Life in a Retirement Community.
Of course, one of the very best ways to enjoy opportunities to engage in everything mentioned above while giving a huge boost to your physical, emotional and cognitive health is to move to a senior living community!
Today’s retirement communities, like Crestwood Manor, offer a host of opportunities to build new friendships and engage in a variety of activities, all while enjoying the pleasure of maintenance-free living. We’re also pet-friendly because we know how beneficial a pet can be to our residents’ health and well-being. Not to mention, there’s nothing like a dog friend to motivate you to take a walk and give you the courage to break the ice with new people!
Best of all, Crestwood Manor offers peace of mind. As a Life Plan Community, Crestwood is designed to meet your needs as you age with on-site medical care and additional living options. To learn more, simply complete a contact request, and one of our sales counselors will call you back shortly to answer questions and, if you like, arrange a tour.