Seniors and Social Wellness
Social wellness is one of the eight dimensions of wellness, which also include physical, intellectual, emotional, environmental, occupational, financial, and spiritual wellness. All eight dimensions are extremely important to our overall health and wellbeing, but social wellness in particular presents a variety of benefits, especially to seniors.
Social wellness refers specifically to the relationships we have and how we interact with others. It involves building supportive, healthy and nurturing relationships and connecting to those around you. It’s important for people of all ages to stay socially active, as it is a crucial component of a healthy lifestyle. Maintaining good relationships, especially as you age, will have a significant impact on all the other dimensions of wellness. In fact, a senior who is involved in social interactions may even be able to live independently longer.
The Health Benefits of Staying Socially Active
It’s important for seniors to prioritize social wellness for the health benefits alone. Some of these benefits include:
- Reducing the risk for diseases. Socially active seniors have a decreased risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and even some cancers.
- Lessening symptoms of depression. Social isolation is one of the key indicators leading to depression in seniors, so those who maintain and continue to build new relationship are often less at risk for depression.
- Strengthening the immune system. The immune system tends to be stronger in seniors who are active socially; one study showed that lonely seniors had elevated levels of proteins associated with inflammation and overall poor immune systems.
- Improving cardiovascular health. Isolated seniors tend to have higher blood pressure, and research shows that a lack of social connections can lead to an elevated risk for cardiovascular disease.
- Extending life expectancy. Overall, seniors who remain socially active are healthier and live longer than those who are isolated. Social connectedness was found to be a strong predictor of mortality in several studies.
Social Activities for Seniors to Enjoy
It’s important for seniors to find ways to stay connected with their peers and the world around them to give them a true sense of belonging. Seniors can consider getting involved in a variety of ways, whether it’s by joining a book, garden or golf club, taking a class to expand their minds, picking up a part time job, volunteering within the community, offering to babysit grandchildren, or just reaching out to others in general.
Today’s senior living communities make social wellness a top priority. Residents can find a variety of activities and events to keep them engaged with others and their minds and bodies active; everything from movie and game nights in the community, planned events around town, physical fitness classes, lectures and guest speakers, and so much more. It’s important to find a social activity you enjoy and make those connections with others to live a full, enriching lifestyle.