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Senior Living | 05/6/21
Spending quality time with friends and family can make your heart happy—figuratively speaking, that is. Researchers believe the absence of social interaction, or more specifically, the stress of social isolation, can contribute to elevated risk for heart health problems, including high blood pressure and heart disease.
In fact, there are many health benefits of socializing for seniors. Studies have also found links between loneliness and a host of health concerns, both physical and mental. Individuals who are socially isolated and lonely may be more likely to have weakened immune systems and experience cognitive decline, in addition to having greater risk for mental health struggles like anxiety and depression.
If spending time with a friend means a cup of coffee turns into two or a leisurely lunch spills well into the afternoon, go ahead and chalk up those good times to making healthy choices. On the flip side, if you’re finding your social calendar a bit bare, understanding more about the health benefits of socializing for seniors may encourage you to mix and mingle.
Interacting with others is a simple but effective way to keep your cognitive skills sharp. Research has shown that seniors with active social lives have as much as 70% less cognitive decline than those with lower levels of socialization. Telling stories that jog your memory, trading witty banter, and even casual conversation require you to put your brain to work.
Loneliness is a top contributor to mental health struggles like depression, regardless of your age. However, seniors tend to be more isolated due to loss or circumstances, such as family members who don’t live nearby. If you’ve recently moved or are planning a move to a senior living community, you may also be acclimating yourself to a new environment. Engaging with your neighbors will help you feel more connected to your new home and enjoy some of the health benefits of socializing with seniors like you. Since you’re surrounded by peers in the same stage of life, you may find it easier than ever to discover new friendships to cherish!
When you have people to see and things to do, you’re more likely to be physically active, and regular movement is important for your health. Even a short walk to the dining room or courtyard helps your muscles retain their strength and stretches stiff joints to improve your mobility. Asking a friend or loved one to join you when you exercise or attend a fitness class can also make your intentional workouts more enjoyable.
A steady social calendar can even help you live a longer life. That’s partly because avoiding the negative feelings that come with social isolation may actually help prevent illness. Researchers have shown links between mental health and your immune system, which is a clear socialization advantage in older adults. What’s more, research from the National Institute on Aging suggests that isolation and loneliness can contribute to functional decline and even death. Other studies show a connection between people with active social lives and other smart health behaviors like exercise and better nutrition.
If you’re living alone, retirement communities provide a natural setting for you to strengthen your social connections. At The Oaks at Denville, we host a wide range of events, senior activities, and ways to socialize. We encourage residents to develop meaningful relationships with their neighbors and reap the health benefits of socializing for seniors. One example is our award-winning LivWell program, which creates opportunities for residents to thrive through programming that allows residents to connect over shared interests.
Contact us to begin exploring our Life Plan Community (also known as a continuing care retirement community) and all the reasons you’ll want to make The Oaks at Denville the center of your social calendar.