As we age, we are more likely to be lonely. We lose loved ones along the way, witness close friends move, and endure many hardships. On average, seniors without spouses or partners spend about 10 hours alone each day. Oftentimes it can feel very lonely and isolating to be a senior. However, finding a good social circle or group of friends can help alleviate loneliness and improve your health.
It’s not always easy making new friends. In fact, some seniors can be very cautious or hesitant of developing new friendships. However, there are several health benefits that accompany getting out of our shells and participating in group activities.
Health Benefits to Social Engagement
Studies show that being actively engaged socially, or playing and joining in on fun activities, can actually help in the following areas:
Enhanced Cognitive Functioning – Improving your brain’s functioning will not only improve your memory, but help you to be more alert, creative, and sharp.
Improved mental well-being – Connecting with other people can do wonders for your your mental and emotional state of mind. Not only will it lower your stress levels (and risk of developing depression), but engaging with other people will often leave you with more positive feelings and a more optimistic approach to life in general.
Improved physical health – Engaging in healthy relationships can help people feel younger and more energetic. Seniors who are socially active tend to be more active physically as well. In addition, one study showed that older individuals who engaged in social activity also had lower risks of cardiovascular problems, arthritis, and dementia. see health benefits including the reduced risk of cardiovascular problems, arthritis.
Ability to make new and lasting friendships – Participating in social activities allows us to meet new people we might not otherwise have had the opportunity. Through our interactions, we are able to learn from each other, share hobbies and interests, laugh together, and build bonds of trust and love with other people.
Increased energy and improved stamina – Interacting in social groups helps people feel confident and in control of life. In addition, a strong social circle can motivate you in other areas of life.
Stronger Immune system – Research shows that older individuals who remain engaged with people have higher levels of immune system functioning.
Improved sleep quality – Studies show that people who feel isolated and lonely struggle to sleep well. However, those who have healthy relationships sleep better.
Increased longevity – A strong circle of friends can offer support and relief from life’s obstacles and encourage you to live a healthier lifestyle.
Finding the Fun in Life
Finding fun activities for your loved one to be a part of can have a major impact on them and their health. “Fun” may not be exactly what it used to be. However, “fun” is definitely still possible, and definitely doable. Try learning what fun means to your senior loved one, then help them get involved. Some ideas might include:
- For the active person: play miniature golf, horse shoes, go bowling, or watch a sporting event with some friends.
- For the crafty person: take an art class, make some jewelry, paint a picture, take a pottery class.
- For the person who likes performing arts: attend a play or musical, karaoke, or go line dancing.
- For the social butterfly: host a themed party or gathering, play a game, or share a talent.
- For the gamers: try crossword/word search puzzles, play Scrabble, Yahtzee, Canasta, or another board game.
- For the nature-lovers: go on a nature walk, a picnic, go bird watching, or plant a garden.
A lack of social stimulation can cause older individuals to suffer mentally and physically. Studies have shown that older individuals who fail to make an effort at being socially active (or remaining socially active), withdraw from the world. However, engaging in social or group activities can give meaning and purpose to one’s life. At PrimRose Care, we understand how important it is to connect with people and develop good relationships. Come visit us today and see what we have to offer.