As many studies indicate, frequent social interaction supports greater health and mental wellness in people of all ages. In an article released by the Mayo Clinic, Dr. Craig Sawchuk, a Mayo Clinic psychologist, explains that “Hanging out with family and friends not only can be fun, but research also shows it benefits your mental and physical health.“ He further asserts that people who are alone for extended periods of time, such as the elderly, may be at greater risk of depression and lower quality of life. Even mildly social individuals reap benefits from socialization.
As we are social beings, regular social contact can heighten our sense of belonging and help us sustain our mental acuteness. As our loved one’s age, we tend to believe that they desire less socialization in their daily lives, but in actuality the opposite is true. As we grow older and our physical/mental health decline, positive social connections become increasingly important to maintaining joy and meaning in our lives. Moreover, elderly adults who are actively social often add years to their lives. Here are four holistic benefits of socialization:
- Lower stress levels and improved heart health. Simply relaxing with family or friends can trigger feelings of peace and elation, which translate to positive mental and physical effects, including reduced stress, lower blood pressure, and a decreased risk of cardiovascular episodes.
- Decreased risk of depression. Engaging in routine social connections as you age can keep those feelings of loneliness and isolation at bay, leading to greater happiness and fulfillment.
- Increased cognitive performance. Achieving healthier cognitive function can be as easy as participating in regular conversations with family and friends, which can provide the mind valuable mental stimulation.
- Better physical health. Social activities generally involve moving around and being physically engaged to some degree, which can help the body stay active and strong.
It can be quite challenging for some of us to maintain an active social life as we age, but the benefits derived from such a lifestyle can be well worth the effort. Assisted living can provide seniors important social opportunities and help sustain their social well-being as they enter the later stages of their adult lives.
Assisted living is a fast-growing senior living option and it is an ideal way to address the socialization needs of our older adults. With assisted living, seniors can maintain their independence while also having access to 24-hour personal care, fitness and wellness services, security, and, most notably, social engagements. As opposed to living alone, seniors residing in assisted living communities can enjoy daily social opportunities and build meaningful connections with their peers.
In addition to being surrounded by like-minded individuals who share similar likes and interests, assisted living communities can be peaceful, exciting environments that motivate the residents to spend time together and participate in the many events and activities available to them daily, including entertainment, field trips, and cultural outings.
One widespread misapprehension about assisted living is that they are depressing, hospital-like facilities where residents are forced to sit around and do nothing all day. Yet, modern assisted living communities are the complete opposite of that popular misconception, with many providing residents a host of amenities that allow them to maintain actively social lives, including swimming pools, fitness and wellness centers, movie theaters, book clubs, social groups, and much more.
Regardless of the care plan you establish for your senior, socialization should be a central component of that plan. In doing so, you will be taking an essential step towards ensuring your loved one is as happy, healthy, and engaged as they possibly can be.