Socialization plays a large role in maintaining quality of life as one ages. Studies have shown that there is an important link between social interaction and the health of senior individuals. Research has shown that those who have strong social networks, seem to have a higher quality of life, live longer and are healthier compared to those with little social support.
Seniors have spent a majority of their lives in the company of others, from raising families to working. Once retirement sets in, and children have left the house, opportunities for socializing decrease.
Some factors that can impact the social networks of older adults are:
- Chronic disease can affect an older person’s ability to leave their home
- Spouses, friends and/or family members have passed away leave an elder feeling lonely
- Limited transportation for those who can no longer drive will cause isolation
- Adult children are busy in their own lives and visit less
Social isolation can put older adults at a higher risks for several health problems, such as:
- Impaired Mental Health
Memory issues and depression are two common issues that seniors experience. Research has shown that social stimulation may reduce the risk for dementia and Alzheimer’s.
- Diminished Nutrition
Often seniors who live alone tend to become malnourished because they cannot cook for themselves, don’t want to eat alone, or simply forget about meals.
- Physical Health Ailments
A lack of socialization has an adverse reaction on blood pressure and cardiovascular health, increased frequency of colds/illnesses, decreased amount of physical activity which affects strength, balance, and endurance.
So what’s the bottom line? Socialization is clearly linked to happiness and lower stress levels. Feeling loved and wanted, or just having someone to talk to each day, is a key element in living a healthy life. Help your elderly loved ones stay young at heart by encouraging them to remain socially active.
Read about the many ways you can help older loved ones connect in their communities.