Meaningful relationships and social connections are more important than ever as adults age. Unfortunately, isolation becomes easier and easier the older individuals get. There are transportation and health issues, major life changes, and deaths in the family and social circles. The amount of social interaction decreases as the social circle gets smaller and smaller. An estimated 42.6 million adults report feeling lonely, and it can have devastating consequences.
While loneliness is something many of us face from time to time, it can be more difficult to overcome in old age. In fact, it can even be a risk factor for death as much as something like smoking or obesity. It can lead to increasing stress, depression, and even high blood pressure and an increased risk for heart disease and stroke. Satisfying social interactions can slow cognitive decline, so a lack of those crucial relationships can lead to a faster cognitive decline.
An active social life boasts numerous benefits, from maintaining thinking skills to combating diseases. Social interaction and support can help ground people and provide a sense of belonging. Without that, aging adults can feel threatened and stress. Knowing that you matter to other people is important for emotional and physical well-being at every stage of life.
It’s important that seniors stay connected to loved ones and find social interaction in their community. Encourage them to stay in contact with their families, and if you have a senior citizen in your family, call them and visit as much as you can. Face-to-face interactions are crucial, but letters, phone calls, and video chats are beneficial when in-person visits are impossible. Setting up regular coffee or lunch dates, or cooking a weekly meal at home for friends can keep seniors active. Hosting a weekly game night is a great way to bring regular social interaction into an aging adult’s life.
Seniors should get involved in the community, whether that means walking their dog at a high-traffic park, volunteering at a local non-profit, or lending a hand at their grandchild’s school. Attending church, book clubs, or other hobby groups they might be interested in like a sewing group is great too.
At a senior living community, a slew of activities can keep seniors active. They’ll meet new friends to dine with, and can attend regular activities that range from bingo to movie nights to happy hour. They’ll be surrounded by individuals experiencing a similar situation.
Loneliness doesn’t have to be a normal part of aging. Seniors should take an active role in increasing their social interaction.