Younger adults usually have plenty of opportunities to see other people and have conversations. They go to work and interact with coworkers and typically have friends they spend time with after work. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for many older adults.
In fact, some seniors are socially isolated, meaning they seldom get out of the house and may not speak to anyone else during the course of a typical day. A lack of social connection can decrease the quality of life for a senior and may lead to both physical and mental health issues.
There are several health benefits of maintaining social connections, such as those described below.
Social Interaction is Good for Brain Health
Older adults who regularly spend time with others tend to enjoy better brain health. Social interaction helps them to keep their minds more active. In fact, experts on Alzheimer’s disease recommend social interaction as one of the ways to prevent or slow the effects of dementia.
Staying Social Promotes Healthy Aging
Lots of things change as people get older. They may suffer from health conditions, be forced to move away from their home to live near relatives who can help, and lose friends and relatives to death. Research indicates that older adults who are socially connected are healthier as they get older. Their friendships help them to cope with health problems. They also have a reduced risk of suffering from depression.
Socializing May Reduce Inflammation
Inflammation is a major factor in many chronic diseases. It has been implicated in diseases like Alzheimer’s disease, some kinds of cancer, and heart disease. Studies indicate that older adults with healthy social lives have lower levels of a substance called interleukin-6, which is an inflammatory factor.
Social Connection Can Lead to a Longer Life
Studies have indicated social connectedness as one of the factors that can lengthen a person’s life. Part of the reason for this may be that people who have strong relationships tend to make better lifestyle choices. They eat a healthier diet and spend more time being physically active. Social connection might even encourage older adults to quit smoking.
If your older family member could use some help maintaining their social connections, home care services can help. Home care services providers can assist them with dressing and grooming, so they look their best and feel more confident interacting with others. Home care services providers can also drive the older adult to social activities, like lunches with friends.