The Benefits of Being Social for Older Americans

The Benefits of Being Social for Older Americans

Robert Weissman, Au.D., B.C.A., CCC-A Communication, Dementia & Alzheimer's, Family & Relationships, Hearing Health, Lifestyle, Research, Tips & Tricks

Robert Weissman, Au.D., B.C.A., CCC-A
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Staying Social as You Age

There are, of course, many physical benefits to staying active in your senior years, but the benefits of remaining socially engaged with your friends and loved ones are not discussed as widely. It offers mental stimulation and engagement, which can lead to good physical and emotional health. Remaining socially active also lowers your risk of isolation, depression, and even dementia.

Seniors and the Importance of Remaining Social

As you age, it is important for your overall health and well-being to stay in touch with friends and loved ones. It is also just as important to continue building new relationships with peers and/or caretakers in assisted living homes or on family outings.

This kind of mental activity is great exercise for your brain and also helps to lower the risk of several medical conditions that are common with senior populations: Alzheimer’s disease, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and more. Remaining social can boost your immune system, encourage you to make better nutritional choices, and lower your blood pressure. The benefits are seemingly endless!

A How-To Guide

It can be tricky figuring out how to become socially active and engaged, especially, for example, if you live alone. These can also be useful suggestions if you live with a large family or in care facility. Try them out!

1. Visit Family

If you do not live with your family, set up a schedule for regular visits. This can ensure that you don’t miss out on big family events and that your family doesn’t miss out on spending time with you. If you do live with family, make an effort to go on outings together.

2. Volunteer

See what volunteer opportunities are available in your neighborhood, if you are physically able. There may also be opportunities to help from the comfort of your own home, so look around and find something that will make you feel like you have made a difference.

3. Get A Job

Re-joining the workforce after many years can give you a sense of accomplishment and pride. It can also act as an easy way to be social with new people while learning new skills, while simultaneously stimulating your brain.

4. Find A Gym

In keeping with the importance of physical fitness, joining a gym lets you also engage with another community of people. Take advantage of social opportunities like group classes and personalized instruction to help you meet your overall health goals.

5. Find A Club

Finding a club or group to join can be a fun way to reconnect with hobbies and activities that you may have let fall by the wayside years ago. You can join or start a book club, community garden, or any special interest group you can think of—it’s likely one exists!

6. Enroll in A Class

Similarly, to joining a club, enrolling in a class to learn a new skill is a great way to also be social. Take up a new skill or revisit an old one, either way your social engagement and mental stimulation will be more active than ever. And you may just write that novel.

7. Learn About Today’s Technology

It may sound daunting, but technology is the most common and fastest way to stay in touch with friends and family. There are entire social platforms built around enabling people to do just that. And don’t think that computers and technology is not for seniors. The Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project states the 74+ demographic is the fastest-growing group across web-based social networks!

Conclusion

Staying socially active as you age is as important as maintaining your overall health. When you meet with your medical doctor for your annual health checkup, ask about adding a hearing exam. The activities above are just a few suggestions to get you engaged with new people and places. They will also help to reduce your risk of isolation and depression, and even Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Your emotional and physical well-being are stepping stones to a better quality of life, and staying social as you age can help you achieve this balance.