We all know the benefit of aging adults staying physically active, like assisting with chronic pain, helping recover from an injury, improving emotional well-being, and even delaying or preventing some illnesses. So, why do so many independent living communities and assisted living facilities place such a significant focus on social activities?
Well, humans are social beings, and just because we age doesn’t mean we stop requiring connections. These relationships can have a significant impact on a senior’s overall well-being, which is why social communities can be the perfect solution for aging adults. Speaking with your loved one about care options can be tough, but the benefits of a social community are plentiful.
What the Studies Show
A vibrant and social community can have immense benefits for its residents, improving cognitive functions and physical functions for those involved. Studies have discovered a wide range of advantages for aging adults who live a social and active life. Let’s look at a snapshot of what these connections can bring:
- Less social activity correlates with a decline in motor function
- Social activity lessens the chances of developing a disability in activities of daily living (ADLs)
- For those struggling with depression, social activities improved their symptoms over time
- A reduction in cognitive decline was reduced dramatically in those who engage in a socially active life
- A lowered risk of developing dementia was discovered in those who participate in daily or weekly social activities
The Cognitive Benefits
Socializing can improve cognitive health for aging adults, as it keeps them intellectually engaged, mentally stimulated, and emotionally invested. An active social life can reduce cognitive decline, including common issues such as memory loss. Additionally, socializing can help prevent forms of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease — especially when it involves exercise.
The mind is such an invaluable asset as we age, making social communities all the more important for older adults looking to boost their quality of life.
A positive and fulfilling social environment can have an immense effect on both physical and emotional well-being for aging adults. Many of these benefits are multi-faceted and support various aspects of daily life — making them all the more important.
A healthy social life helps to reduce stress and anxiety and create skills to manage these issues more efficiently, which can improve cardiovascular health and immune systems. It can also reduce the risk of depression or depressive symptoms as it combats the harmful effects of isolation. Socializing can also boost self-esteem and improve an aging adult’s sense of belonging and self-worth — further decreasing depressive symptoms or feelings of loneliness.
Older adults who engage in active social circles are also more inclined to exercise — which has countless benefits for mental, emotional, and physical well-being.
And finally, an active social life actually leads to a longer lifespan, as it keeps the mind and body healthier and happier for longer.
Activities to Stay Socially Engaged and Involved
So, it’s not hard to see how a healthy social lifestyle can drastically improve aging adults’ quality of life. Whether it’s in the independent or assisted living community, staying connected with peers gives older adults both purpose and a sense of belonging. Here’s a list of activities that provide a social environment to stay involved, healthy, and happy.
Join a Club or Group
Whether it’s regular safe and socially distanced game nights, card clubs, gardening circles, or knitting groups, book clubs — participating in activities of interest stimulates the mind, body, and spirit. Not only do older adults have the opportunity to meet new people, but they also strengthen relationships with those who share similar interests through valuable experiences.
Engage in Fitness Classes
Exercise offers incredible value to an aging adult’s overall well-being. Keeping the body moving helps improve cognitive functions, physical health and offers incredible benefits for emotional welfare. When you add a group dynamic to the picture, you get the best of both worlds. Not only are you participating in healthy physical activity but also engaging in a social environment with other active seniors looking to keep their bodies moving.
Trips to the Movies
Many assisted and independent living communities have shuttle services that aging adults can take advantage of. When it is safe to do so, take a trip with other residents to the store, the mall, or even to the movies, as it can be a great way to share experiences and engage in social interactions.
Many older adults share a sense of spirituality, which means engaging in religious services can be a great way to connect with others and self. Whether it’s attending mass together on the weekends or watching services with other residents on television or through the internet, religion can bring people together.
Meet With Family
Maintaining familial relationships can be both comforting and rewarding, as it interweaves social interactions with the love and care of those closest to us. Whether it’s eating a meal, playing games, or watching a movie — connecting with family can have fantastic benefits. If an aging adult doesn’t have family close to them, phone calls or FaceTime can be a great alternative to in-person visits.
Choosing the Right Community
Finding the right community with the support, services, and offerings can be a challenge. Oftentimes, the crucial areas that get pushed to the wayside are activities and social opportunities.
While these may seem like amenities, they’re actually a crucial aspect of choosing the community that best suits the well-being of you or your aging loved one.