All of us possess an innate need for meaningful social engagement with others.
This need isn’t specific to any one age group. However, research has found that socialization for seniors is absolutely vital when it comes to their quality of life.
In fact, the University of Miami’s Global Business Forum conducted a study that concluded that for seniors, strong social ties are more important in preventing illnesses than genetic backgrounds.
Unfortunately, as we age, it can be difficult to fulfill these needs, with factors such as health conditions, lack of mobility, and decreased energy limiting our ability to interact with others on a regular basis.
The good news is, senior living communities can be an antidote to the isolation that many seniors experience.
With the constant stream of opportunities to engage with fellow Residents and Associates, these communities can provide numerous benefits that result from increased socialization for seniors.
Here are three significant benefits that of socialization:
#1: A sense of purpose and belonging
For many seniors that spent a sizable part of their lives pursuing and building their careers, life post-retirement can lead to a decreased sense of purpose.
Being a part of, and contributing to, a social community can fill this need, ensuring seniors won’t experience feelings of worthlessness and despair that are common with social isolation.
Additionally, being in the company of others and engaging with them in a variety of ways provides a sense of belonging—another ingrained human need. This is particularly key for those that have lost a spouse or close friends.
Creating these new bonds and relationships within the context of a community will enable your loved one to feel a renewed drive and thirst for life.
#2: Prevention of cognitive decline such as Alzheimer’s
Aside from taking a toll on seniors’ emotional health, social isolation can often contribute to a decline in physical and mental health.
Robert S. Wilson, PhD, and his colleagues analyzed the association between loneliness and Alzheimer’s disease in 823 older adults over a four-year period.
The published study stated that lonely individuals may be twice as likely to develop the type of dementia linked to Alzheimer’s disease in their later years as those who are not lonely.
“Humans are very social creatures. We need healthy interactions with others to maintain our health,” says Dr. Wilson. “The results of our study suggest that people who are persistently lonely may be more vulnerable to the deleterious effects of age-related neuropathology.”
That’s right—loneliness can create physical changes in the brain. The best way to prevent these changes is to create circumstances where social engagement is easy and consistent.
#3: Encouragement to maintain physical health.
People are more likely to partake in activities and events when they are invited, accompanied, and encouraged by other people.
Many of us can relate, regardless of age. It’s no wonder why group exercise classes and fitness clubs have become popular in our society today.
Senior living communities are no different, and often provide a diverse offering of physically beneficial activities for Residents—such as exercise programs.
Organized activities aside, socialization for seniors can have positive physical effects on their bodies. It works to boost the immune system, lower blood pressure, and decrease physical pain that is often exacerbated by depression (source).
Even the act of walking somewhere within a community to meet up with friends can benefit your loved one when it comes to maintaining his or her physical abilities.
There are many other reasons why finding a community full of opportunities for socialization can have a positive impact on your loved one’s well-being as he or she continues into the later stages of life.
If you’re concerned about your aging loved one’s risk for isolation, we encourage you to be proactive in finding a community such as LifeStream Complete Senior Living to provide them with regular socialization.
Contact us to learn more about how we can help increase the quality of life of your loved one.