We generally encourage young children to socialize and understand its importance. At the other end of the age spectrum we tend to overlook the importance of socialization for our older adults. Human beings are social animals by nature, but as we age the circumstances of our lives can push us toward loneliness and isolation unless we are active in cultivating new relationships. This is true whether someone lives alone, with family or in an assisted living community.
There are three main benefits of socialization:
1. A Sense of Purpose and Belonging
The combined advantages of active socializing can enhance your loved one’s quality of life considerably and add years to their expected lifespan. Seniors will be able to make new friends and strengthen existing relationships when they are engaged in activities they love with others who enjoy the same interests.
2. Self-Confidence and Self-Esteem
Life just tends to be more enjoyable when we spend quality time with people who have similar interests to our own. Feeling needed and appreciated can make a big difference in anyone’s life, no matter their age.
3. Improved Physical and Mental Health
Boosting self-esteem and self-confidence contributes to a positive mental outlook, which in turn results in the release of positive hormones. These health-promoting hormones can help the body fight off illness and disease while making us feel better. In addition, regular interaction and engagement with peers helps to keep the mind sharp.
By Keren – WMIL (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Opportunities For Socialization
Assisted living communities provide residents with activities and programs designed to meet their physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, social and vocational needs. Beyond that, it’s up to the individual to seek out opportunities to form new bonds and friendships. We have a few suggestions to consider:
Join a club or group that deals with one of your interests or happens to focus on a hobby of yours.
Volunteer at an assisted living community to teach a skill, play music for a sing-along, or just sit and chat.
Join an active seniors group offered by a local senior center or church.
Take advantage of activities, events, and programs that are free or offered at a discounted rate for seniors. Often local colleges and universities allow seniors to audit classes at a minimal charge or even at no cost.
Plan a regular “date” with a friend to enjoy lunch, shopping, or other activities that you both happen to enjoy.
To combat increased loneliness and social isolation, encourage your loved one to seek out regular activities with others. This will also help him/her feel good about themselves and life in general.
Engaging in activities and group events while learning new skills allows seniors to bond with new friends while promoting physical and mental health. This can improve their quality of life and overall life expectancy.