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What Are the Benefits of Social Interaction for Seniors?

Loneliness often feels like an unfinished puzzle, missing the last piece that completes the entire picture. It leaves you feeling incomplete and unsettled, making it difficult to feel confidence and self-worth.  As our loved ones get older, they become especially vulnerable to loneliness and social isolation. Rest assured, we’re here to help you find the […]

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Loneliness often feels like an unfinished puzzle, missing the last piece that completes the entire picture. It leaves you feeling incomplete and unsettled, making it difficult to feel confidence and self-worth. 

As our loved ones get older, they become especially vulnerable to loneliness and social isolation. Rest assured, we’re here to help you find the missing puzzle piece. 

Social interaction has been shown to benefit one’s mental and physical health, increase happiness, and promote personal growth. Let’s complete the entire picture together. 

Keep reading as we explore how social interaction may benefit seniors and improve their overall well-being. 

Table of Contents

Why Is Socializing Good for Seniors?

When people are socially connected they create supportive relationships. Supportive relationships are especially beneficial for seniors battling the negative aspects of aging like the onset of health issues, the loss of loved ones, and experiencing memory loss or loss of independence.

Socializing can offer built-in support systems in the face of adversity and strengthen resilience. Socially connected seniors are more likely to make healthy decisions, have better mental and physical health outcomes, and experience greater positive moods and fewer negative feelings. 

 10 Benefits of Social Interaction for Seniors

 #1: Decreases the Risk of Cognitive Decline

Bryan James, an epidemiologist at the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center in Chicago,

performed a study measuring how social activity affected cognitive decline. Over 1,100 

seniors without dementia at baseline were measured on their social activity levels and

then tested periodically on their cognitive functioning over a 12-year period. The rate of

cognitive decline was 70 percent less in people with frequent social interactions than 

those with low social interactions. 

Social connections are important for the elderly in reducing the risk of cognitive decline and lowering levels of disability, suggesting the ability to live more independently for longer.

 #2: Helps Seniors Stay Active

Moving your body and being physically active is one of the most important things an older adult can do for their health. 

One of the major health benefits of social interaction for seniors is the motivation to exercise. Seniors may feel more empowered, have more energy, and feel more confident in getting out to move around and interact with others. 

Staying active not only helps keep seniors involved, but it can strengthen their immune systems, helping to fight off colds and flu. Physical activity has numerous other health benefits, as it can improve brain health, reduce health risks, strengthen bones and muscles, and help you live longer. 

 #3: Creates a Sense of Belonging

It feels good to be wanted, included, and cared for. Time spent socializing helps boost confidence and strengthens your sense that life has meaning and purpose because you matter. 

And seniors want to feel like they matter, too! 

Social interaction can remind seniors that they are of consequence and important to others. Knowing that they are part of something bigger than themselves may play a crucial role in their esteem and mental well-being. 

Research has shown that seniors living in care facilities with built-in social activities have a greater sense of belonging which is associated with fewer negative psychosocial outcomes.

 #4: May Improve Mental Health

One important health benefit of social interaction for seniors is that it decreases the risk of depression. 

Research shows that loneliness is a risk factor that contributes to the development of major depressive disorder. Loneliness is a common feeling for older adults to experience. In fact, over one-third of adults over the age of 45 feel lonely. Further research indicates that those who suffer from depression, social isolation, and feelings of loneliness are also at increased risk of all-cause mortality

But here is the good news:

Studies on social interventions show significant evidence that social support and feeling connected can mitigate depression and improve overall mental health. 

Here are some examples of the amenities and activities at our senior housing communities that can help ease the feeling of anxiety and depression:

  • Planned social events
  • Exercise and wellness programs
  • Regularly provided nutritional meals in communal dining setting
  • Housekeeping services
  • 24-hour staff on-site
  • Assistance with activities of daily living (dressing, bathing, personal care)
  • Transportation services
  • Purpose-built common areas

 #5: Encourages Healthier Habits

Social interaction encourages healthier lifestyle habits. Limited mobility experienced by some seniors may lead to social isolation and a sedentary lifestyle. Making new friends or starting new hobbies may be difficult for seniors due to health issues, limitations, or feeling intimidated to try something new alone.

Social activities for seniors are important. A group of friends can reopen up a world of fun with engaging activities that they may otherwise be disconnected from. As a group, seniors can join exercise classes, create book clubs, start new hobbies, and seek out senior-oriented events and volunteer opportunities. 

Having a support system empowers us (no matter our age) to seek healthier habits and engage in new adventures.  

 #6: Fosters Independence

Older adults needing help may find it burdensome to ask their immediate family for what they need assistance with. They don’t want to interrupt younger family members’ busy lives and feel embarrassed asking for assistance with what they need.

A senior with a strong social connection to a group of people will be more likely to ask for help from those who are of similar age and have similar schedules. This social network gives older adults more independence to try new things and not feel that they are disrupting anyone’s schedule. 

A strong social circle can encourage independence, promoting a sense of achievement that, for many seniors, creates a feeling of great worth and well-being. 

 #7: Creates Feelings of Happiness and Enjoyment

Enjoying close social ties makes us happy and improves our overall life satisfaction. 

One study, led by Dr. Denis Gerstorf, indicates that living a socially active life and prioritizing social goals are associated with higher late-life satisfaction and enjoyment. 

Friendships and social connections are important for the elderly because they can help create happiness. Happy people enjoy better health outcomes because they can demonstrate:

  • Better problem-solving skills
  • Positive coping strategies
  • More successful adaptation
  • Greater resilience
  • The ability to deal with adversity  

 #8: Gives Comfort To Friends and Family

One benefit of social interaction for seniors that is often overlooked is the gift of comfort

it may bring to friends and family knowing that the person they love is well taken care of. 

Loved ones may see the positive difference that these social activities create. It will ease any concerns they may feel about their loved one’s well-being knowing that they are happy and fulfilled in their daily life. 

Less time spent worrying allows for more time to be relaxed, mindful, and present in the moment when spending time together.    

 #9: Provides a Sense of Safety

Your location matters when it comes to providing a sense of safety. Living around others provides a community that you can depend on when you need to. 

Safety is one of the most basic but important needs for seniors. Seniors who do not feel safe or secure may experience more stress, anxiety, and social isolation. Feeling unsafe or insecure can discourage the desire to get out, meet others, and get help if needed.  

Social connection builds friendship and trust in the people that you live around, which can make you feel safe and cared for. Studies show that seniors who feel safe in their living environment tend to go on more walks, ask for and get help if they need it, and try new activities within their community.

 #10: Fosters Personal Growth

Learning does not have an age limit. Just because you’re an older adult doesn’t mean learning and growing ends! 

Social interaction encourages a growth mindset which helps you maintain your brain plasticity, challenges and stimulates your brain, and expands your learning experiences. 

Personal growth often involves embracing change and welcoming new experiences. Seniors can learn a new language, how to play an instrument, master technology, etc. Encouraging curiosity in these types of important social activities for the elderly can strengthen mental health, provide fulfillment, and empower a lifestyle to be purposeful and meaningful. 

Aging is not just a time for reflection and sharing of wisdom, it is, more importantly, an opportunity for growth, fulfillment, and connection.

 The Dangers of Social Isolation for Seniors

Loneliness can affect esteem and mental health, but it can also lead to severe physical issues as well. In fact, according to the U.S. Surgeon General, loneliness poses serious health risks as deadly as smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day. 

Social isolation and loneliness are linked to several physical and mental conditions including:

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Obesity
  • A weakened immune system
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Alzheimer’s disease

Social isolation in seniors also poses safety risks, if there is no one around to help an older adult who falls or grows ill, there may be little or no time to help them. 

Seniors living alone can also be victims of burglaries or scams, a risk eliminated by living in a senior living community equipped with safety features and added protection. 

Fires are a danger in any living condition, but seniors who need extra oxygen may be at an increased risk if exposed to a fire. Living in a community where smoke detectors are properly installed and overseen removes this worry. 

A critical benefit of social interaction for seniors is the decreased risk of dangers that often accompany being alone. 

 Ideas To Help Seniors Stay Socially Active

It can be challenging for seniors to get out and about for several reasons: mobility issues, lifelong friends and spouses are no longer living, immediate family is busy and cannot visit that often, disabilities or illness, etc. 

Fortunately, as more adults reach retirement age, there are an increasing number of social activities available. 

Here are some ideas to get socially involved:

  • Exercise classes and walking groups
  • Bingo
  • Swimming and water aerobics
  • Learn a foreign language
  • Card games
  • Happy hours and group outings
  • Dance Classes
  • Painting and craft parties
  • Gardening Clubs
  • Reading Groups

Consider moving to a senior living community where social activities are built into daily life. 

Getting socially involved does not have to be stressful or overwhelming. Senior housing communities offer pre-planned social engagement opportunities. All you have to do is check out a daily calendar and choose what interests you!  

 Senior Services of America Makes Social Interaction a Priority

We value the importance of social connection for seniors, and we are passionate about the health benefits that social activity strengthens. 

One of the main benefits of living at a Senior Services of America community is that you’ll live right next to your neighbors, see them every day when dining, and have built-in planned activities to look forward to. Care staff are there to escort you to activities, eliminating any stress about getting there. 

Our list of top-notch amenities encourages social connections including restaurant-style dining, entertainment areas for family and friend gatherings, exercise and wellness programs, as well as social, recreational, and enrichment activities.Our residents are our top priority, and we take pride in caring for our community of individuals with dignity and respect. Our approach to care provides a full range of options enabling the pursuit of personal interests and maximizing independence. We hold ourselves accountable for high standards and the quality of care we provide. Find your nearest community today to learn more about the benefits of senior living.

The content in this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.