Loneliness has become a growing problem among Americans, especially those over the age of 60. While there are many reasons for it, the necessity for support, love and companionship won’t diminish with age, and those that don’t get enough have an increased risk of becoming ill or sustaining injury. Below are some benefits of socialization.
Advantages of Socializing
Elders who maintain an active social life are less susceptible to the cognitive, emotional and physical difficulties that come with age. Examples of such advantages include:
- Lower stress: Aging adults tend to deal with stress and panic better, which in turn enhances their cardiovascular health along with their immune system.
- Superior fitness: Studies have shown that elders who are socially active are often physically active as well, which provides numerous cognitive and physical benefits. But aside from this, going to the gym or exercising outdoors gives one time to meet with and interact with others, which is not the case for elders that live sedentary lifestyles where much of their time is spent indoors.
- Greater lifespan: The more one socializes as they age, the longer they live.
- Increased self-esteem: Low self-esteem is a common problem especially among elders, who experience a natural deterioration in their physical appearance and performance as a result of aging, but by socializing with others and remaining physically active their self-esteem will be greater.
- Lower anxiety: Socializing has the effect of lowering anxiety, but will also minimize the incidence of depression. This is because being around others and interacting with them reduces feelings of isolation and accompanying despair.
Obstacles That Must Be Overcome
Socialization tends to be more difficult for aging individuals for a number of reasons. Some of these include physical ailments, reduced mobility, cognitive decline and the loss of loved ones or friends. To overcome these obstacles, it may be necessary for elders to join a retirement community where they will have access to groups of people that are similarly aged who they can relate to.
However, many over the age of 65 are independent and don’t want to leave their current residence. If this is the case, you’ll want to consider engaging in activities such as:
- Volunteer work: Doing volunteer work will provide you with the opportunity to give back to the community while meeting new people. It will also keep you busy, bring purpose to your life and alleviate boredom.
- Reach out to your grandchildren: If you have grandchildren you’ll want to spend as much time with them as possible. Perhaps you can partake in hobbies which interest them and vice versa.
- Attend local religious organizations or community centers: If you are a member of a certain religion, there may be a church, synagogue, mosque or temple in the area. Going there is the perfect way to meet new people you share beliefs with.
- Organize social events: One way to get people to come to you is by hosting social events such as charitable functions where people from all over town can get together and mingle.
As you can see, there are many ways to remain socially active in your community, but you must have the desire and will to reach out to others.