According to the National Institute of Aging, three in every ten aging adults in America live alone, equating to approximately 13.9 million people. While it is good for seniors to maintain their independence, family members and caregivers should understand the benefits of socializing and the dangers of ignoring the social life of aging adults.
For starters, every human is inherently social. Humans are social beings by nature and function better when surrounded by others in a community. Unfortunately, seniors easily get separated and isolated from the rest. The risk of isolation increases as seniors grow older. That said, socialization is beneficial to aging adults in the following ways:
Table of Contents
1. A Sense of Belonging
Having a sense of belonging helps humans, including teens and aging seniors, know that life has meaning. Lack of a sense of belonging among older adults can raise significant health concerns. For instance, seniors who don’t find any meaning in life can easily develop deteriorating mental and physical health.
Lack of meaning in life also lowers cognitive function. On the contrary, aging adults who are part of something big can avoid these risks. Family members should make efforts to ensure their aging adults aren’t isolated. If they can’t find time to give their aging senior company, caregivers or retirement communities like Long house are perfect alternatives.
2. Mental Health Benefits
Mental health and mental health issues, especially among seniors, have received more attention in recent years. Though often ignored, seniors are a vulnerable population to mental health illnesses. For instance, Lancet findings show that depression is common among seniors with chronic conditions. Depression worsens disability and increases the severity of chronic illnesses.
Fortunately, socializing can significantly improve mental health and well-being for seniors. An American Public Health Association study found that socialization directly improves mood, memory, and cognition. Socializing also comes with healthy behaviors, such as exercising, which improve seniors’ mental health.
3. Reduces Risk of Mental Decline
It is common for aging adults to experience severe cognitive decline. Millions of aging adults often develop Alzheimer’s disease, which leads to significant cognitive decline. While Alzheimer’s disease and other cognitive health issues can’t be cured, socialization reduces the risk of mental decline.
Strong social connections can positively improve cognitive function. Older adults who socialize and maintain friendships preserve their episodic memory longer. Episodic memory is the ability to recall specific details in-depth. Active seniors can retain similar episodic memory as young adults.
4. Physical Health Benefits
A social life also has significant physical health benefits for aging seniors. Note that socializing for adults shouldn’t be restricted to sitting at home with family members, friends, and caregivers. Socialization for adults should include spending time outside their homes and engaging in simple activities like hiking, grocery shopping, and light sports. Bringing the elderly out of their homes makes them refreshed and energized.
Socializing increasingly becomes important for general physical, mental, and psychological health with advanced age. The elderly often feel isolated and lonely because of medical conditions, limited contact with family and friends, and limited resources. There is also the natural tendency to be less active with aging. Families and caregivers should promote socialization to improve the quality of life of their aging seniors.