When people talk about health, they tend to focus on things like nutrition, exercise, and regular visits to the doctor. While these are all essential, don’t downplay the importance of your social life. Last month, the U.S. Surgeon General released a statement to call attention to a widespread issue that impacts both physical and mental health: loneliness. While social interaction is crucial for people of all ages, there are some critical benefits of socializing for seniors.
Benefits of Socializing for Seniors
A healthy social life lowers the risk of depression.
As we age, our social networks often shrink because we’re no longer in school or working. This may lead to loneliness, boredom, and depression. Simply talking with friends, family, acquaintances, and even strangers can lower your risk of depression and anxiety. Social activities can also help you feel more positive and optimistic, and they may boost your energy levels.
Pleasant social interactions may help with cognition.
According to a 2021 study, seniors experienced better cognitive performance when they had more frequent, pleasant social interactions. The cognitive benefits lasted for two days following the interactions as well. This is wonderful news! Especially if you’re already experiencing some loneliness, simply boosting your social life could give your mind a boost as well.
A broad social circle is correlated with better physical fitness and positive emotions.
Who you interact with may be important as well. According to a 2019 study, seniors who frequently interacted with people outside of their typical circle of family and friends were more likely to have higher levels of physical activity and greater positive moods. The researchers theorized this could be because people are often sedentary when they’re hanging out with friends and family. They might be eating a meal, watching TV, or simply lounging at home. But if people frequently get up and leave the house, they’re more likely to interact with other people as well. Obviously, all positive social interactions are worthwhile, but it could be a good idea to step outside of your comfort zone sometimes.
Socialization can lengthen your life.
Engaging in regular social activities and making new friends can even help you live longer! According to a 20-year study conducted by the Mayo Clinic, which involved 4,000 seniors, those who maintained healthy social lives as they aged generally lived longer. We don’t know exactly why this is, but when you consider all the benefits we’ve already discussed, it makes some sense. Plus, a healthy social life is also associated with lower blood pressure, a stronger immune system, and better nutrition. It may feel like socializing is a simple, unimportant part of your life, but it carries huge advantages.
Clearly, the benefits of socializing for seniors are nothing to sneeze at! So, pick up the phone and call that buddy you’ve been meaning to reconnect with. If you’ve got a new neighbor, stop by and say hello. And make a point of attending all the community activities and events that pique your interest. Whether you have a short and pleasant conversation or find a wonderful new friend, you won’t regret it!
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