We all know how satisfying and enriching it can be to spend time with friends, but did you know that it can also improve your health, boost self esteem, and may even ward off dementia?
The benefits of having an active social life have been studied for years, and according to some seniors who are currently living in a residential community setting, these findings have merit. In fact, these folks say they are living proof that socialization is good for you.
“To be honest, I think having people right outside my door every day and spending every meal talking with other seniors has prolonged my life,” said Joan Carter, from her home in a senior’ residence in Calgary. “Back when I was living alone in my home, I would see people just maybe once or twice a week, I barely felt like I was part of the world anymore.”
Irene Stintson says before she moved into AgeCare Seton, she had lost all desire to live, and spent all her days buried in memories from her past. Now, she shares her meals with others, goes to activities offered in her community, and even enjoys joking with the attendants and other staff in her place. Says the 81-year-old, “I’ve really come around. These days I have every intention of sticking around for a few more years.”
Other proven benefits of social interaction include:
- Improved physical health: Studies show that socialization can positively impact the immune system. For instance people who socialize more suffer from fewer colds, have lower blood pressure, and are better able to fight off critical illnesses.
- Improved mental health: Research shows that social interaction can increase feelings of well being and decrease feelings of depression. Some studies indicate that mental health improvements are immediately measurable within hours of social contact.
- Enhanced cognitive functioning. Over the years there have been numerous studies that indicate that socializing (especially when combined with a healthy diet and regular exercise) can positively impact brain health. People who enjoy a robust social life generally perform better on memory tests and other cognitive functions. Further, according to a Harvard study on Better Habits, people with who have some degree of companionship and emotional support are less likely to develop dementia than those who are more socially isolated.
While some seniors are faced with challenges such as health limitations, poor mobility, or low energy, that make socialization difficult, there are still ways to stay engaged. Phone conversations are a good option, as are invitations to have friends come to your home. Churches often have activities for seniors, some senior centres offer day programs that include transportation.
Also for seniors who are still living independently in their own homes, perhaps a move to a seniors’ residence is in order. Many report that in addition to boosting their socialization, this kind of living situation gives them the added benefits of comfort, safety, and security.
Just ask Joan and Irene who talk endlessly about the upside of living life in a seniors’ residence. “If you ask me, this place literally saved my life,” said Irene.
For more reading, visit the health benefits of socialization.
To learn more about an AgeCare Community near you, visit www.agecare.ca/Communities