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Why Is Social Interaction Important for the Elderly?

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A group of four seniors gather around a table. They are stacking up Jenga blocks to play a game.

Social interaction is important for everyone, but it becomes even more vital as we age. It can prevent loneliness, reduce stress, improve sleep, and keep seniors physically and mentally active. 

Social isolation can happen for various reasons, such as living alone can sometimes leave seniors feeling cut off from society, retiring, death of a spouse, divorce, and disability or illness. These can all reduce contact with others and limit the amount of activity. 

Senior living can provide engagement with meaning for the elderly who look for a lifestyle with various experiences. In this post, we explain why social interaction is invaluable for the elderly and cover some tips on how you can help ensure your loved ones don’t feel alone. 

Lack of Social interaction and Health Risks

By cultivating and maintaining a social network, the chances of living a long, happy, and fulfilling life are higher. It can help the elderly feel more connected and provide opportunities for friendships with support throughout the journey.

Without social interaction, isolation and loneliness can affect the health of the elderly. Close to one-fourth of adults over 65 years are socially isolated. 

These are the health risks associated with social interaction:

  • Increased risk of premature death
  • 50% increased risk of dementia.
  • 29% increased risk of heart disease and a 32% increased risk of stroke
  • Increased risk of depression, anxiety, and suicide

How Can the Elderly Stay Socially Involved?

There are many approaches to staying socially active, and encouraging our loved ones to do so is one of the best things we can do for them, especially with decreased mobility. Here are a few suggestions to increase social interaction. 

Spend More Time with Them

If your loved ones live alone, increase visits and the amount of time you spend with them. These can include outside trips, in-person visits, or regular phone calls. 

Encourage Participation 

Encourage elderly loved ones to join programs, clubs, or classes outside of the home, such as their local senior center or community library. You can also help them set up get-togethers and dinners for family and friends. 

Volunteer or Find a Hobby

Help them find a worthy cause to volunteer, a hobby, or a new skill. Engaging with the community through volunteering enhances social inclusion and relationship-building. 

Animal Companions

Animal-assisted therapies and adopting a pet can do wonders to alleviate loneliness. It is, of course, considering their ability to care for animals. 

Social Technology

A senior woman sits on a couch with a laptop on her lap. she is using the laptop to have a video call with a young girl.

Compared to a decade ago, technology usage has increased among older adults. New research shows that 4 out of 5 people over 50 use technology to stay in touch with family and friends. 

Senior Living Communities

Senior living creates large communities for the elderly without sacrificing relationships. Some senior living communities maintain vibrant social calendars that may include physical, spiritual, social, intellectual, and emotional activities and programs to suit individual needs. 

Benefits of Social Interaction for the Elderly

Social interactions can have a huge impact on seniors’ quality of life. The benefits of this interaction are both physical and mental, with less risk of depression and a longer life span:

  • Volunteering can create a sense of belonging and purpose in the elderly.
  • Animal companions can improve the social, physical, and emotional well-being of the elderly.
  • A study confirms that technology use is associated with better self-rated health, fewer chronic conditions, better well-being, and lower depression. 
  • Positive influence on cognitive function

Socialization plays a vital role in senior living communities. Their design provides the elderly with an environment they need to stay socially engaged. Everything from their facilities to their trained staff, care teams, and services ensure comfort and opportunity to participate. 

Keeping the Elderly Connected

It’s up to us all to ensure that the elderly don’t fall into a path of social isolation and loneliness. There are many opportunities to take advantage to help improve your loved one’s quality of life and social interaction.

Butler Street Senior Living is always here for you and your family when you decide to transition to a senior living community. Getting older doesn’t mean you have to give up on social life. 

Book a visit with us to view our programming and exceptional range of activities developed to keep your loved ones active and healthy. 

Written by Butler Street Senior Living

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