As you get older, you become more aware of your overall health and well-being. You may start seeing your doctor a little more often, and you may start eating a little healthier too.
But did you know that your friendships can also keep you healthy?
It’s true that older adults are more susceptible to health problems, but research has shown that consistent socialization can improve your physical and mental health and possibly lengthen your life!
The Benefits & Importance of Socialization for Seniors
So how does socialization affect older adults? As we mentioned, socializing has both mental and physical benefits, which can help you live a longer, happier, and healthier life. Here’s a more in-depth look at the healing power a few friendships can have:
Friendships Reduce Stress Levels
As people age, they often experience more chronic stress. That stress may be due to health problems, the loss of loved ones, retirement, or other life changes. While a certain amount of stress is expected, too much can lead to serious health problems like anxiety, heart disease, and depression. Fortunately, socializing can help reduce stress levels. When you interact with your friends, your body releases oxytocin (“the love hormone”), which can help lower blood pressure and cortisol levels, protecting against stress-related health problems.
Socialization Boosts Self-Esteem and Reduces Depression
Regardless of age, when people don’t feel good about themselves, they’re more likely to experience depression and anxiety. These feelings are often magnified when you’re older, and socializing can boost confidence and self-esteem. When you interact with your peers, they’ll give you positive feedback and validation, sending your brain the message that you’re valuable and loved. Overtime, these positive feelings can minimize the feelings of depression and anxiety.
Friends Boost Mood Levels and Provide Support
As we get older, we’re more likely to suffer from mood swings and feelings of loneliness. While it’s normal to feel lonely sometimes, chronic loneliness can lead to an overall drop in mood. Fortunately, friends can help boost mood levels and provide emotional support. When you have someone to talk to, you can express your feelings and work through difficult emotions, giving you the ability to maintain a more positive outlook on life.
Social Interaction May Increase Cognition and Memory Recall
One of the main concerns for seniors is cognitive decline. It’s often considered a natural part of aging but can also be exacerbated by conditions like Alzheimer’s and dementia. While there’s no surefire way to prevent cognitive decline, socialization may slow down the process. As you interact with others, your brain is stimulated. This stimulation may help keep your mind sharp, improving memory recall and overall cognition.
Being Social Can Help You Stay Active
It’s often common for older adults to become more sedentary as they age. This can be due to various factors such as retirement, health problems, or a lack of transportation. And while it’s normal to slow down as you get older, too much inactivity can lead to a decline in your overall health. Fortunately, socializing can help you stay active because you’re more likely to participate in different activities throughout the week. Getting up, moving around, and getting out of the house to meet up with friends (even if it’s just going to lunch) can help you stay physically active, which is essential for maintaining your good health.
Ways for Older Adults to Socialize
There are several ways to stay social as you get older. Here are a few ideas:
- Join a club or group: There are clubs and groups for just about every interest, from book clubs to gardening clubs to walking groups. Joining one of these groups can help you meet new friends with similar interests to your own (and you may decide to start meeting outside of the group time as well!).
- Volunteer: Volunteering is a great way to give back to the community and meet new people. Many organizations offer volunteer opportunities for seniors, such as Meals on Wheels and Habitat for Humanity.
- Take a class: Taking a class or lesson of some sort is a great way to meet new people (and improve cognition, too!). And there are many options available for older adults, from art to cooking and language classes.
- Go on outings: Spending time with friends doesn’t have to be a big production. Sometimes, just going for a walk or grabbing a cup of coffee can be enough to socialize.
- Use technology: Technology can be an excellent way for seniors to stay connected to friends and family. Social media sites like Facebook and Skype allow you to remain in touch with your loved ones, even if they live far away. We don’t advise that technology should be your only form of communication, but it’s nice to have it when you can’t be face-to-face more often.
Join A Senior Living Community Like Roland Park Place: One of the best ways for older adults to socialize is to join a retirement or senior living community. These communities offer numerous amenities and activities that will encourage you to stay active and provide opportunities for you to make many new friends. Roland Park Place is an exceptional option if you’re looking for a community to join in the Baltimore area. Our calendar is always full of social events and activities like day trips, weekend coffee hours, book clubs, and more. Our goal is to help each of our residents lead an active and fulfilling life for years to come.
For more information about Roland Park Place, please get in touch with us. We’d be happy to answer any of your questions.