Social connection as you age is vital for a number of reasons, and modern science is discovering there are massive potential benefits to elderly health. Not just physically but mentally too, as socializing gets you out more and can keep your brain sharp and healthy as you age.
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There are Community Benefits
It’s a story we hear far too often, the lonely elderly woman or gentleman who lives at the end of the street. Because of social isolation, they don’t get out much, and rumors begin to spread. This makes it worse. But getting out into the world and becoming part of the community gives you a reason to get up in the morning. Assisted living facilities are excellent at helping you overcome social anxiety, and with time, you can become the social butterfly you always knew you were.
There are also Mental Benefits
Just being around others is an established way to stay healthy. As such, it is included as a priority equal to food and water on Maslow’s (and others’) hierarchy of needs. Social acceptance, therefore, alleviates the mental issues that can accompany isolation and loneliness, such as depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem. This is why coming out of your shell to speak, laugh, and play with other people is essential as you age when you consider age-related illness too.
Social Connection Reduces Age-Related Risks
Getting older comes with quite a few well-known problems for men and women. Some of the most common age-related risks include lower bone density, arthritis among seniors, cardiovascular issues, and dementia-related illnesses. There have been some studies around social living and aging, with encouraging results. For example, one study found that people who engaged in reminiscence therapy or visited friends and family often were 12% less likely to develop dementia illnesses.
A Purpose is Good for the Brain
Keeping the brain sharp is beneficial no matter your age. But there is a higher risk of cognitive decline as you get older, and social isolation can speed this up. Staying socially active with friends, family, and neighbors is a valuable tool for exercising the brain. Logic, reason, and memory are all exercised when you engage in conversation on a regular basis and have to recall what you have previously said. These can get worse with aging if you don’t use them enough.
How to Stay Socially Connected
Being around others is a valuable way to stay physically and mentally healthy. But it can be easy to fall into the trap of not wanting to engage after a long social absence, being out of work, or personal tragedy. So, how do you stay socially connected? If you have any specific talents you love to use, volunteering is an excellent way to get back in the game. You can also teach others about any hobbies you have, and even social media isn’t just for the younger generation.
You can once again become a vital part of your community when you mend a social connection. Yet there are also health benefits, such as reduced age-related issues and physical health.