Socializing: It's for Kids, Ages 2 to 102. Most people understand the importance of encouraging young children to socialize, but it's easy to overlook the importance of socialization for older adults. Human nature leads us to crave fulfilling relationships with other people. As we age however, life circumstances may push us toward loneliness and isolation unless we take proactive steps to cultivate new relationships. This applies regardless of whether someone lives alone or in an assisted living community. Consider some of the benefits of socialization for your aging loved one…
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.
Increased Self-Confidence and Self-Esteem
Joining a group of people with the same interests makes life more fun. Volunteering or working a job can provide a reason to get up and go with a smile. Feeling helpful and needed often makes a huge difference in anyone's life, no matter their age.
Improved Physical and Mental Health
Spending time affirming others and receiving affirmation in return raises self-confidence. So does keeping up with current news and trends. Think about how your loved one would feel if he/she was asked to lead a current events group, use a computer, or offer tips on learning the basics of a smartphone. Even still, how proud would they feel if they were asked to teach a group of peers how to play poker, figure out a Sudoku puzzle, or bake a special family recipe.
Anything that boosts self-esteem and self-confidence can contribute to a positive mental outlook, which in turn encourages the release of "good" hormones. These health-promoting chemicals help the body to fight off illness and disease while physically making us feel better. In addition, regular interaction and engagement with peers helps to keep the mind sharp.
Where To Find Socialization Opportunities
Quality independent living and assisted living communities provide residents with activities and programs designed to meet their physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, social and vocational needs. In other cases, it's up to the individual to seek out opportunities to form new friendships. Here are a few suggestions:
- Join a club or group with a shared interest, such as walking, knitting, sports, dancing, chess or bridge.
- Volunteer at an assisted living community to teach a skill, play music for a sing-along, or just sit and chat.
- Join a senior center or church that offers an active senior’s group. Join the group, too.
- Take advantage of activities, events, and programs that are free or offered at a low cost for older adults. Many colleges and universities allow seniors to audit classes at a low cost or no cost.
- If group settings don't appeal to your loved one, encourage them to consider planning a regular "date" with a friend and enjoy lunch, shopping, or other activities.
- Join a gym or fitness center and take advantage of classes specifically designed for older adults.
- 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 prolong their quality of life and overall life expectancy.
If you'd like more information about United Methodist Homes, contact us today, and we'll be happy to talk to you!