The Importance of Relationships & Social Interaction For Seniors

As we age, it becomes harder to make new friends or socialize with current friends that might have moved away or have severe medical issues. The older we get, the less energetic we become and would prefer to sit at home in front of the TV or read. The less socially active we become, the higher the risk of depression or isolation.

In a scientific study, it was found that older adults with more social engagement developed mental and physical limitations more slowly over time. Those with little to no social engagement developed mental and physical limitations at a quicker rate. Social interactions offer many benefits for older adults, from reducing the risk of dementia to boosting your immune system.

Having a close relationship with family can increase senior's mental health.
Having a close relationship with family can increase senior’s mental health.

Support System

Staying socially active will allow you to have a stable support system of friends that know what you’re going through. When you are going through a rough time, having that support system can make a problem more bearable. You can talk about your problems, receive feedback and advice, and help cope with the issue better. Your friends can offer you a shoulder to lean on, acknowledge your emotions, provide motivation, and shed some light on the situation.

Improves Physical Health

Complications can happen from lack of physical activity such as muscle and bone loss, changes in weight, poor circulation, and lower stamina. Remaining socially active can potentially reduce the risk of these issues as well as heart problems, and can lower blood pressure.

When you have more options to be social, you tend to leave the house more whether to meet up with friends for a meal, a walk, or another small get together. Walking, going up the stairs, and carrying bags are simple physical activities, but they are a positive step and have a positive impact on your health. On top of getting more physical activity your immune system will also likely be healthier seniors tend to eat more when they are around others and a healthy appetite leads to a healthy immune system.

Spending time with friends and other people your own age can also help you remember to get your recommended health screenings. When you are around people going through similar changes that come with age they are more likely to keep you on track. If all of your friends are talking about getting their health screenings you are more likely to remember and schedule one of your own due to group mentality. If your friends find out about a new drug, exercise, or disease to look out for you are more likely to take an interest than if you pass a flyer or briefly hear about it from a stranger. This will help you stay on top of your health, because the people around you are trying to stay on top of theirs.

Getting outside for a walk with friends can boost morale.
Getting outside for a walk with friends can boost morale.

Maintains Mental Health

Interacting with friends and family can reduce your risk for mental health issues such as depression, Alzheimer’s disease, and poor cognitive function. You can have a structured activity like a book club thats allows you to talk about a new book every month, or just get together with your family and friends to talk about the good old days. The important thing is that you keep socially active to keep your mind sharp You need to find a way to keep your mind engaged in a social setting, not just on your own. Studies show that strong social connections will drop the chances of cognitive decline by 70%.

Friends can give you self-confidence, and help you to try new things which can add some fun to your life. It gives you a sense of belonging, reduces stress levels, and keeps you connected to the world around you.

Ways to Remain Socially Active

One of the best ways to remain socially active is to join a gym, which can help you meet others and help you stay physical.

Volunteer in your community or visit a senior care center and participate in activities to meet people with similar interests, to help you build a stable support system.

Take a class, learn a new language, learn different cooking styles, and/or take up a new hobby.

Maintaining relationships and staying social is important as you age to help you stay active and mentally healthy. Always find ways to stay stimulated and connected to the world in order to not fall into isolation and decrease in physical health.