We all know how important it is to have a social life. Not only do friends and activities keep us happy, but they can also be a benefit for us physically. When you are being social, you are using your brain to think, react, and remember, and all are very important for a healthy brain life. However, it’s true that as we get older, friends and family may be lost along the way, leaving many seniors living a life away from a social scene. If you have an older loved one, it’s a good idea to understand the importance of keeping seniors social.
According to a study by the University of California at San Francisco, seniors who reported being lonely were at a 45% greater risk of mortality, and isolated seniors were at a 59% greater risk of physical and mental decline compared to their peers who were more active and social. There is no doubt that being social has a big impact on our overall health, especially as we age.
Another study led by researchers at The University College of London found that frequent contact with others around the age of 60 was associated with a lower risk of developing dementia later in life. Additionally, daily face-to-face interactions with others led to a 12% decrease in the likelihood of developing dementia. The study pointed out that by being social, people are using cognitive skills like memory and language, which help develop cognitive reserves in the brain. This buildup of cognitive reserves can help older adults cope better with aging and delay the onset of diseases such as dementia that cause cognitive decline.
Keeping Seniors Social for Better Health
So how do we keep seniors social to help them keep mind and body busy and build up cognitive reserves that can help delay or prevent dementia? Here are a few ways to keep seniors social.
Plan Regular Visits & Keep in Contact
If you live near your older loved one, make an effort to check in on them regularly. Ideally, this would be every day, however, if that is not possible, at least one or twice a week. Regular face-to-face contact is the best for helping your loved one stay mentally active, but there can be other ways too.
Check-in by calling and having a conversation with your loved one. Ask them about their day and what they plan on doing or who they say this week. Just by asking your loved one questions that would require them to think back to activities and people they have completed and encountered, you are helping them use cognitive skills that can help keep their memory and mind active.
If your loved one uses a computer, consider a Skype or FaceTime call if you are far away. This is a good way to see each other face-to-face if a physical visit is impossible. FaceTime will also allow you to see your loved one and pay attention to how they are responding to your questions. Are they slowing down? Do you need to secure more help in taking care of them? This can all be better determined when you see them in person or on the screen better than if you simply call.
Find Community Activities
Many communities have a senior center where older adults can go to engage in regular activities and exercise. Research senior centers in your loved one’s neighborhood to see if there is one close by that he or she can attend regular classes or events. This is also a great way to encourage your loved one to get active physically! Many of these types of organizations have workout classes that are geared specifically to the level of activity that is right for older adults. By remaining physically active with others, your loved one is receiving the benefits of being social as well as the physical benefits of exercise. It’s a win-win!
Pay Attention to Safety
As adults age and become more isolated, there may be desperation that creeps in and takes over when it comes to social interactions and trust. If your loved one does not have regular interaction with friends and family, they may be more willing to trust strangers that do not have their best interests in mind. This can lead to your loved one being taken advantage of by theft or identity fraud. Another reason to keep seniors social is so that they are more aware of these types of crimes, but also so that as a loved one, you can keep a close eye on them to prevent them from falling victim to common phone, mail, and email scams. A more social and happy senior may be less likely to fall prey to the charms of a criminal.
Keeping Seniors Social and Healthy
Physical and mental health are very closely tied together, so as your loved one ages, it’s important to find ways to incorporate the two. This may mean encouraging daily walks with friends or during your own visits to check-in. Maybe you join yoga together or practice meditation. Whatever it is that is an activity that can be done that benefits both the body and mind will ultimately keep your loved one healthy way into the later years of their life.
Find other ways to keep seniors social during the holidays by visiting our blog.
Consider In-Home Caregiving Services
If your loved one lives at home alone, and you are concerned about their lack of social interactions, it may be time to consider an in-home caregiver. Caregivers don’t necessarily have to be medical professionals, but they can be qualified companions who can assist your loved one with light housework and errands, or even simply sit with them at watch TV or play a game. In-home caregivers are a perfect way to provide your loved one with social interaction if they are limited in their mobility or ability to leave the home. When you can’t be there for them on a daily basis, consider hiring a qualified, professional companion to assist you with your caregiving needs.
Contact us at 24/7 Nursing Care to learn more about the caregivers and companions we can place in your loved one’s home for the short-term or long-term. We look forward to hearing from you! Call us at 786-518-3622 in Miami or 954-949-1332 in Broward.
Staying Socially Active May Offset Risk of Cognitive Decline. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-athletes-way/201908/staying-socially-active-may-offset-risk-cognitive-decline
Price, C. (2018, September 22). Keeping Your Elderly Loved Ones Busy and Active. Retrieved from https://www.medicalalertadvice.com/resources/how-to-keep-your-elderly-loved-ones-busy-and-active/