Socialization is Vital to Health of Seniors

Filed under: Home Healthcare

Friends Eating An Al Fresco LunchMost of us spend our lives in the company of other people. We work, we get married, we raise children, and we’re involved in our communities. And yet, as we age, we often lose many opportunities for socialization. Staying home to care for an ill spouse, losing the ability to drive, the deaths of longtime close friends, and other factors associated with the aging process can drastically shrink our social worlds. It’s not uncommon for many seniors to spends days or weeks at a time in their homes, without companionship.

Unfortunately, loneliness can affect the mind in body in surprisingly drastic ways.

Mental health. About seven million seniors over age 65 display symptoms of depression, and after age 71 dementia will affect one in seven of them. And yet, studies have shown that consistent socialization can reduce the incidence of both disorders.

Physical health. Researchers have studied the effects of socialization on immune system function, blood pressure, chronic pain, and many other aspects of physical health. The results? An active social life can promote long-term physical health and reduce the symptoms or occurrence of many health conditions.

Nutrition. About 35 percent of senior citizens suffer from malnutrition, partly due to lack of ability to prepare food, and probably also due to depression or waning appetites. And yet, one study found that hospitalized patients eat more when exposed to consistent, friendly opportunities for socialization.

Since socialization plays such a vital role in overall health, it is important to offer seniors opportunities to engage with others. Some ways to accomplish that goal are:

  • providing a friendly home health care worker
  • getting seniors involved with volunteer work
  • helping seniors join clubs and organizations
  • moving to a retirement community
  • enrolling in classes to learn new skills
  • adopting a pet
  • teaching seniors how to use the internet
  • attending worship services
  • providing seniors with the support they need to leave the home, such as driving or accompanying them on outings

Those are just some of the ways you can support your aging loved one, and help to promote improved physical and mental health. For more information on helping senior citizens live full and enriching lives, contact Rebecca Prouty at Always Best Care (951) 375-4588.