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The Importance of Socialization for Seniors
Healthy Aging | 04/22/21
In your retirement years, your pace of life may slow, but that doesn’t mean your social schedule should, too. Maintaining strong social ties throughout your life is good for your emotional and mental health, can play a role in your physical health, and can even result in a longer life span.
Having loved ones to call on and celebrate special moments—or commiserate with when things go wrong—provides a sense of community and belonging. Those relationships make life’s joys even sweeter and the hard days easier to bear.
The reality is, every time you grab a cup of coffee with a neighbor or gather around a table for a good meal and laughs, you’re reaping the health benefits of socializing. Keep reading to get a closer look at the specific health benefits of staying connected with your peers and loved ones and learn why socialization is important as you grow older.
You may not realize it at the time, but communicating and interacting with others is a way to keep your mind sharp and your cognitive function strong, which makes it one of the health benefits of socializing. Social activities like card or board games that challenge your brain may add even greater advantages, but even the simple banter of a good conversation can provide a healthy dose of stimulation for your brain.
A less obvious, but important, health benefit of older adult socialization is how it can increase your enjoyment of physical activity. Having a workout buddy is a smart strategy no matter what age you are. It helps you be accountable to your fitness goals, and sharing the experience with others makes it feel less like work and more like fun. Chatting during a walk around the grounds, participating in group fitness classes, and spending time in the community pool are all ways residents at Winchester Gardens blend socialization and physical activity.
You may think of stress as an emotional or mental concern, but it affects your body physically, too. A health benefit of staying connected is the impact on your stress level. Lower stress results in better cardiovascular health and a stronger immune system. You’re also likely to sleep better when you’re experiencing less stress. When you have strong social ties, your stress levels are likely to be lower. You have an outlet for expressing worries and fears, and the sense of belonging fosters greater life satisfaction.
Reports of loneliness and isolation are common among seniors, which is why socialization is important for elderly individuals. Maintaining social ties helps minimize the idea that you’re alone, which in turn reduces your risk of that sadness escalating into a more serious form of depression or anxiety. Planning social events, even if it’s just a phone call to check in with a loved one, gives you something to look forward to and can help boost your mood.
Believe it or not, a longer life may actually be one of the health benefits of staying connected. Social isolation and feelings of loneliness are among the factors that contribute to functional decline and even death, according to research from the National Institute on Aging. Some studies show correlations between people who have strong social connections and other healthy behaviors, such as exercise and good nutrition, while other research suggests that the emotional toll of isolation can negatively affect your immune system.
At Winchester Gardens, we’re continually introducing new ways to help seniors socialize and avoid isolation. Having a full-time activities director as part of the family means you’ll always have access to plenty of options for engaging with others who share your interests.
We organize group tours to nearby museums, take in arts and culture events in New York City, and create opportunities for residents to share their knowledge as volunteers for local organizations. Within the community, we host events like Trivia Happy Hour, Tea and Tunes, numerous fitness and wellness classes, sports tournaments, and more. It’s all part of our commitment to creating opportunities to thrive.