As a senior, your social health is just as important as your physical health. Experts say that seniors should seek to stay connected with friends and family members every day. Many people don’t realize it, but a lack of social interaction can lead to a number of health risks. But a quality social life can have the same effect on your overall health as a good workout.
As more baby boomers near the golden years, the number of seniors living alone increases. According to statistics, older adults without children is on the rise, leaving fewer family members to care for them. As a result, social isolation has become more prevalent in our communities. Awareness is the first step toward overcoming loneliness.
After doing some research, Freedom Home Care found that some of the risks associated with a lack of connectedness include:
An Increased Rate of Cognitive Decline
In a study conducted by Yvonne Michael – an epidemiologist from the Drexel University School of Public Health – that observed how social activity affected cognitive decline, out of 1100 seniors who participated, the rate of impairment was 70 percent less in those who had regular contact with others.
Higher Levels of Disability
Because social activity is related to motor function, if the body is not in (relatively) constant motion, certain parts will cease to function. In communities that provide more opportunities for seniors to interact, researchers found that there were fewer disabilities among residents. Even if there was a history of smoking or heart disease, the people with a higher level of social action were about 43 percent less likely to experience a disability.
Greater Chance of Developing a Serious Health Condition
Those older loved ones who find themselves isolating socially are at a greater risk of developing long-term health conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular problems, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis and even some forms of cancers. They may also be less likely to see a doctor or get medical treatment for their illnesses as well.
The Advantages of Staying Connected
It’s been shown that seniors who are more socially connected live longer and cope better with physical ailments and loss than those who don’t.
Things, like folding laundry or mowing the lawn, can be challenging for some adults who are receiving Chicago in-home care or personalized elder care. When older loved ones live in communities with other seniors they’re more likely to get the help they need from others.
Being more socially active is also linked to greater health-seeking behaviors. People tend to look out for one another and are likely to help. Comradery leads to earlier detection and prevention of illness and disease.
Many activities and events sponsored by senior communities are designed to help prevent isolation. Older loved ones get to choose what they like to do – from playing board boards to bowling or even spending time at the local park. Being involved with others also motivates them to continue to do the things they love.
Additionally, an active social life can boost your immune system and improve your nutrition, since you tend to eat more when you’re around others. It can also lower your blood pressure and potentially reduce the symptoms of depression.