What would life be like without our friends and family? Some studies indicate that it may be a lot shorter! Research points to the fact that more social people live longer. This is not to say that a healthy diet and regular exercise aren’t important, but that a balance of all three can result in a longer, more fulfilling life. This is especially true when it comes to seniors: socialization helps them in more ways than one.
The benefits of socialization
A senior will experience a richer life when they stay connected. The owner of Partners for Home wrote, “Cognitive abilities do not decline as quickly when seniors are socially active. Maintaining these connections keeps their brains in top shape.” Socialization benefits seniors in multiple ways:
It reduces stress
Do you have a problem that’s bothering you? Bottling it up can make you more agitated. It helps to talk with a friend about your thoughts and feelings and hear their perspective on your issue. By sharing our stressful thoughts with others, we can process them in healthier ways and feel more relaxed for it.
Socialization increases self-esteem
Spending time with our friends can remind us that other people value our company. When seniors feel down on themselves, speaking with loved ones shows them their value and what they have to offer. They can reconnect with a feeling of belonging and purpose in life. Making someone smile or laugh can improve self-esteem, which is important for the well-being of a senior.
Staying social promotes a healthy lifestyle
Getting active on your own can be tough. It’s much easier to go for a walk or a swim when you have a friend to join you. You can also encourage and motivate each other to continue leading a healthy lifestyle. Social connections allow seniors to make healthy lifestyle changes because they can do activities with friends.
The dangers of isolation
Have you ever experienced a time when your social contact was limited? Since the outbreak of COVID-19, many people have minimized their circle of friends. You may have felt isolated and even depressed due to your lack of socialization. The same thing happens to seniors when they do not maintain their friendships.
Many young people rely on work and schooling for social connections. An elderly person receiving in-home care may only see the occasional family member and home care assistant.
Being isolated makes depression and anxiety worse
Problems rarely resolve themselves on their own. Isolation tends to make mental health issues even more difficult. When seniors feel depressed or anxious, they don’t have a way to process those feelings without friends. A lack of socialization can reinforce depressing thoughts or anxious emotions. Ruminating with negative thoughts can make people feel very unhappy and hopeless.
It can make grief more intense
Left alone with our grief, it can spiral into an unpleasant emotional state. Talking about our thoughts and feelings with loved ones helps us process our emotions and cope in healthier ways. Crying with a friend is better than crying alone. When you lose someone, it can be easy to close off from the world. But this can have a seriously negative impact on seniors.
Isolation can cause cognitive decline
Research indicates that those who are socially isolated experience memory decline. Seniors who are experiencing some cognitive decline may see it get worse when they do not socialize.
How can seniors stay social?
Many aging adults face challenges that limit their ability to socialize, such as mobility issues or health problems. It’s not as easy for them as it is for a young person to go out and meet up with friends. So how do seniors preserve friendships when they’re faced with these barriers?
Ask family members for a ride. Seniors may want to meet with their friends at a restaurant or recreation center, but they are no longer able to drive. If this is the case, they can ask family members to give them a ride to and from. When loved ones are unavailable, they can use ride-sharing services.
Volunteer. If your aging loved one is missing the engagement that a workplace provided, then they should consider volunteering. It will help them feel like part of an important cause and give them a reason to leave the house and socialize with others. When they support a foundation that they believe in, they can connect with the other like-minded individuals who are volunteering.
Invite friends over. When leaving the house is too difficult, ask friends to come over instead! The advantage to aging in place is that seniors can stay in their own homes. It allows them to invite friends to visit them in their familiar, comfortable, and safe spaces.
When your aging loved one is receiving home care, they may have all their needs looked after but one: socializing. Those who are experiencing cognitive decline may have their symptoms improved by a visit with friends. Don’t underestimate the importance of connecting with friends: it helps seniors live longer, feel happier, and be healthier.
We can Help! Our local advisors can help your family make a confident decision about senior living.