Humans, as a species, have made it this far because of their social structure and the benefits they gained from it. Because of that, socialization is a fundamental part of a healthy life, fortified by having a healthy diet and active lifestyle. People that don’t socialize might start experiencing social isolation, which might lead to certain health issues that include dementia, chronic diseases, depression, and much more.
In this article, we will explain how social isolation affects older adults, how we can benefit from social interactions, and recommend some social activities that can help with socialization, no matter how old you are.
An increase in lonely older adults
A recent study that was published by the University of California, San Francisco, showed that 43% of older adults experience loneliness every day. This increase in loneliness is partly brought about by the increasing number of seniors that live by themselves. According to a report by the Administration on Aging, almost 13.8 million seniors live by themselves in their homes.
The increased number of seniors that live alone is exacerbated by the fact that one-third of people aged between 45 and 63 are single, and 19% of women aged 40-44 don’t have any children. This leads to the “elder orphan” phenomenon, and to make matters worse, 22% of baby boomers will be left to their own devices as they age, since it’s estimated that they won’t have a family member to take care of them as they get older, which, in turn – increases the risk of social isolation.
Decreased mobility and sensory input quality like vision and hearing loss only add to the factors that cause loneliness. When seniors find out that they have some form of sensory impairment, they sometimes become less willing to go out and mingle, embarrassed by their newly-diagnosed limitation, not knowing that there are ways they can use to mitigate these impairments.
How does loneliness affect seniors?
No matter what the reasons might be, social isolation can cause some severe health issues in seniors. When affected by social isolation, seniors can experience these health issues:
- Increased risk of premature mortality
- Loss of motion
- Mental decline
- Lung diseases
- High blood pressure
- Elderly abuse
But not all is bad, as many programs and activities for seniors exist which can help them with socialization, be it at their own homes or somewhere else.
Fun social activities for seniors
Nobody likes the feeling of loneliness, and it is proven that social isolation severely impacts seniors’’ quality of life. Luckily, there are many social activities for seniors to participate in, be it at their own homes or outside.
Here, we will list some activities you can use to start socializing and fight social isolation:
- Search for community-led social activities – Community centers will usually carry out classes and events that are catered towards seniors in their surrounding areas. You can always drop by and check out their schedule to see if there are any activities that pique your interest.
- Senior daycare programs – Not unlike community centers, senior daycare programs are specially designed to provide senior-focused social activities like arts crafts, cooking, games, and gardening.
- Exercises partners – Apart from being an excellent way to socialize with other people, maintaining an active physical routine will go a long way in maintaining your independence. Additionally, exercising with a partner will increase your motivation and help you follow your workout plan.
- Maintain a buddy system – You really don’t have to look far if you want to socialize. You can always make new friends that live nearby, or you could try contacting some old ones and ask if they want you to have dinner or lunch together. You can make it a routing and have weekly gatherings for dinner, game nights, or some other activities that are fun for both of you and socialize.
- Take up educational classes – to help slow down mental decline that is associated with loneliness, brain-stimulating activities such as classes at the local community college could prove to be a great option. They might even have special classes and curriculum that are specifically created for seniors. If you’re lucky to have this, it’s a win-win, since apart from learning new things, you’ll undoubtedly make some good friends.
- Volunteering – Volunteering is a wonderful way to give back to the community, in addition to bringing lots of health benefits. Seniors that volunteer have reported to have a smaller amount of physical limitations, as well as less reported cases of depression, accompanied by longer life expectancy.
- Consider a pet – Apart from providing someone to hang out with, pets are also known to improve older people’s mental functions, reduce stress levels, blood pressure and heart rate. Having a dog almost certainly means that you will go out of the house for a walk, where you will have an opportunity to meet some other dog owners and connect.
Get a medical alert device to stay safe
Even though taking part of social activities is beneficial for seniors, it is very important to find the activity that best suits you and your situation. If you don’t enjoy the activity you’re spending time on with your friends, it won’t bring much satisfaction or benefit.
Consider buying a medical alert device that you can use to quickly receive help no matter where you are. These kinds of devices will provide an easy way to ask for help from the comfort of your home, or if you’re out during the night enjoying a walk or dinner with your friends, staying protected all the time.
We can Help! Our local advisors can help your family make a confident decision about senior living.