words Al Woods
Socializing is an important component of developing an elderly person’s well-being in all facets of life including, emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual. If you are curious about how these concepts operate in a practical manner, here’s how social connections can improve a senior’s quality of life.
When we engage in social interactions with other people, we’re harnessing and practicing our social skills. Being alone for a long period of time can lead to impairments in the neurons used to process information. For older adults socialization can improve memory recall and mental acuteness. While cognitive decline is certainly not always associated with aging, it’s nice to think that simply engaging in a conversation can have this bonus.
Reduction In Anxiety/Stress
Anyone who feels socially isolated is going to have an increase in their levels of anxiety and stress. Older adults may worry that someone will not be around to check up on them if they happen to fall, or have a medical emergency. Young and older people alike can bring an energetic and happy atmosphere to an elderly person. People who are more accustomed to handling their stress due to socialization experience physical health benefits too. These include an improved cardiovascular system and enhanced immune system. As older adults are more at risk to illnesses such as the flu this is an exceptional asset.
Social Supports Lead To Exercise
Elderly persons who are more engaged in social support groups are more likely to be involved in exercise. Older adults who go for walks with their friends are engaging in this kind of low impact activity. There might even be local programs that support older adults physical activity directly. The professionals behind Graying With Grace provide guides for elderly persons who are looking for sports or hobbies. There are a plethora of reasons why the elderly should exercise including cardiovascular benefits, improved bone density, and respiratory function.
Participating in social excursions or having someone visit regularly to talk is great for senior’s confidence. If you’re socially isolated an elderly person might start perceiving inaccurate concepts about your personal level of health, and your cognitive function. Having someone around who interacts with seniors in a non-judgemental way helps boost their self esteem in a needed way.
Elderly people are the population that is most at risk for falls, and most at risk for having a health related incident while no one is around. If the elderly are part of a social network, either in the community or with family and friends, their absence will go noticed. This means that someone will be checking up on them if they have fallen and can’t get help, or if another incidence has occurred.
Being around people makes us happy (well, depending on who). Actively talking about your day, laughing, being supportive, it’s something that everyone needs in their life. Humans are social creatures and being around people who care about us is just as much a need as drinking water or eating food. The elderly absolutely need to socialize in order to keep their joy in life, and they look forward to the goings on of the world just like everyone else.
A Healthy Diet
An ugly side to social isolation for aging adults is the fact that they might not be getting enough nutrition. If an older adult lives by themselves, they might not be cooking food that provides an adequate source of vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients. They may even become malnourished from skipping meals because it’s too difficult to manage on their own. Elderly people who have a social network are more likely to have an improved level of nutrition are less likely to become malnourished.
Spirituality is touted as a mandatory component of health in most medical models, but not in the religious sense. Spirituality is deriving meaning and purpose from your life, and not socializing can lead to negative consequences. Being part of a group increases senior’s purpose in life and helps them derive meaning from their day to day activities.
It’s clear that socializing is an important part of an elderly persons life, it leads to improved physical health, it helps generate working memory, and can lead to more exercise or improved nutrition. We all need to derive meaning in our lives and if we are alone and isolated it can feel a little depressing. Whether it’s going to a social group, or just having time with friends, all older adults should invest a little time in being social for their health.