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The Importance of Social Connections for Seniors

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Building a Community of Support & Friendship in Your Senior Years

Some people find themselves feeling isolated as they age. Whether from loss of friends and family or less time spent out of the home in the workplace, seniors may be left feeling lonely. Loneliness can be unpleasant and can also have a negative impact on your health. 

You can take steps to combat these feelings and keep yourself healthy by building and nurturing relationships. Senior living communities may offer a lifestyle that suits your needs and helps make social connections.

Did you know that keeping a full social calendar could help keep you thriving? Discover the benefits of socialization and some tips on how to keep your relationships blossoming in your senior years.

The Benefits of Socialization

Humans are a social species. We rely on each other in communities and family groups to stay safe and happy. Research shows that engaging in the sort of community building we’re naturally inclined towards can also boost our health. For example, social interaction slowed cognitive decline in seniors by up to 70%

Intentionally building social networks directly combats the adverse effects of isolation and loneliness.

Risks of Isolation

The dangers of not having enough socialization are clear. Nearly 1 in 5 seniors are at risk for social isolation due to factors such as loss of loved ones, chronic illnesses, and living alone. 

Loneliness and isolation have a direct impact on your health, including:

  • Higher blood pressure
  • Increased susceptibility to the flu
  • Greater risk of heart disease
  • Earlier onset of dementia

It’s said that prolonged social isolation can increase adverse health outcomes, similar to smoking 15 cigarettes per day!

Fortunately, feelings of loneliness and isolation aren’t guaranteed. There are plenty of ways to build community and find meaningful social connections as an older adult.

Socialization for Wellness

Healthy social interactions are crucial to overall well-being, not only for our emotional selves but for every aspect of our health. There are ways to build socialization into nearly every facet of caring for your wellness.

The 5 Dimensions of Wellness

The 5 dimensions of wellness have been identified as key areas that need to be nurtured to ensure wellness. They are physical, emotional, social, spiritual, and intellectual.

Physical Wellness

Having close social connections can encourage physical wellness by keeping you engaged and active. In addition to this, having a community of people who are actively involved in your life means there’s a better chance that they will notice and assist you if you are having any health problems.

Many senior living facilities offer on-site health benefits and social connections with other residents, care workers, and healthcare providers. 

Emotional Wellness

Emotional health is a crucial part of our overall well-being. Social connections can lower stress. Having close friends and loved ones that you can confide in and share your emotional self reduces feelings of isolation and may lead to more fulfillment in your senior years.

Social Wellness

It goes without saying that seeking social connections can boost your social wellness. Making an intentional effort to build and tend to relationships will allow them to flourish, likely leave you feeling more connected and cared for.

Spiritual Wellness

Spiritual wellness can involve devotion to your religion, a personal relationship with a higher power, or a dedication to exploring the universe’s mysteries. You may find ways to deepen your existing relationships and expand your social circle by sharing your spirituality with others.

Our Arcadia at Limerick Pointe community works in partnership with the nearby St. Theresa of Calcutta parish to offer a faith-based approach to senior living for people of all walks of life. Living in a community dedicated to spiritual wellness may bring you closer to your neighbors.

Intellectual Wellness

Taking care of your mind is essential and may become a focus for older adults hoping to avoid the effects of dementia or Alzheimer’s. Social connections have been shown to stave off cognitive decline, so take part in a group class to learn something new, play mentally challenging games like chess with a friend, or practice language learning with a partner.

Four seniors gathered around a table playing a game

Fun Ways to Socialize for Seniors

There’s no time like the present to enjoy new activities with friends, building on your interests and hobbies to connect with those around you. Consider trying one of the following ideas:

  • Volunteer: Volunteerism has noted benefits for mental health and wellness. It also allows you to connect with your community members in a meaningful way. Be it through sharing your skills with the next generation by volunteering at a local school or by helping clothe and feed those in need by helping at a soup kitchen, food bank, or shelter, volunteering helps foster connections. 
  • Get involved with an activity or club: If you have a hobby you love—knitting, dancing, gardening, golf, cooking, you name it—enjoy it with your peers. There are clubs available that celebrate all kinds of hobbies. Take a class to learn a language or a new subject area. Or try something new to challenge your mind and help you meet new people.
  • Play games: Card games, board games, bingo—anything that lets you get a little competitive, offers a mental challenge, and has you engaging with your friends can offer quality social benefits (so long as you aren’t a poor sport if you lose!)
  • Enjoy group singing: Singing is good for the body, heart, and soul, and group singing has a marked improvement on wellness: it relieves stress, improves lung capacity, and has even been linked to better memory. Join a choir, sing at church, or join friends around the piano to reap the benefits of song.
  • Join a church group: if your spirituality and faith are important parts of your life, express them in fellowship. Discussion groups, volunteer committees, or study circles are available at most houses of worship.

Don’t discount reconnecting with loved ones who live afar! Modern technology can allow us to see and speak with friends and family across the world. No matter where you are, you can nurture relationships by:

  • Writing a letter to a penpal
  • Setting up phone calls with friends & family
  • Arranging a video call so you & your loved ones can see one another as you chat

There’s no one way to nourish your social connections. Find an activity you love, plan a daily walk with a group of friends, or spend quality time chatting over a cup of tea or coffee—any way you choose to socialize, you’re building your community network and caring for your overall wellness.

Find Your Friends in Boutique-Style Senior Living

A simple way to make sure you’re taking care of your health, and especially tending to your social needs is to move into a senior living community. Senior living communities encourage socialization while allowing independence, and offer plenty of activities and amenities that enable you to engage with your neighbors and strengthen social bonds.

Contact a senior living community to book a tour and see what type of lifestyle you could be enjoying with your peers today.

Written by Arcadia Limerick Pointe

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