People often overlook the importance of social interaction for the elderly. As the physical and mental well-being of senior citizens begins to decline, staying socially active serves as an important method for elderly care. Maintaining a connection with others help strengthen the immune system while improving mental health. Socialization has a lot of positive effects for senior citizens. It is an integral part of our lives. As social isolation and depression become a large issue for senior citizens, families, and caregivers should work towards encouraging their elders to engage with other people.
The Importance of Social Interaction for the Elderly
Benefits of Social Interaction:
According to a study conducted by Yvonne Michael, an epidemiologist from Drexel University School of Public Health, living in areas with high levels of activities in the community (aka high social capital) provides elders with higher physical mobility. Social capital refers to the interpersonal relationships that serve as assets for a person. With that being said, living in a community with high social capital will provide senior citizens with more opportunities for social interactions.
1. Slows Down Cognitive Decline
The importance of social interaction for the elderly can be seen in the improvement of cognitive functions. As elders age, their physical and cognitive abilities slowly decline. However, social interactions can decrease the level of cognitive decline that elders are experiencing. This is because social activities stimulate the brain, helping to improve cognitive functions. As a result, senior citizens who are socially engaged have a lower chance of developing dementia and other mental/cognitive diseases.
2. Improves Physical Health
Aside from affecting an elder’s cognitive function, social interaction also has many positive effects on physical health. For example, becoming socially active can strengthen the immune system while also reducing one’s risk of obtaining cardiovascular diseases, Alzheimer’s disease, as well as osteoporosis. When you are maintaining your mental and physical health, your chances of catching diseases are lowered due to a stronger immune system. In particular, seniors with high social capital will not be at risk for high blood pressure.
3. Combats Mental Illnesses
Socialization strengthens your mental health. Therefore, senior citizens who are socially engaged are less likely to suffer from mental illnesses – especially depression and isolation, the two most common forms of mental illnesses in senior citizens. Because social isolation is the main cause of depression in seniors, becoming socially integrated into a community can help lessen the risk of depression.
4. Strengthens Brain Power
Socializing can boost the health of your brain while also lowering your risk for dementia. This is because social capital can help improve memory loss. Whether you believe it or not, social interaction helps your brain with decision-making skills, memory, and overall cognition functions. Socialization serves as one method of keeping your brain active.
How to Become Socially Active
There are plenty of ways to help your elder engage in social activities to increase their engagements with others. For example, you can encourage your senior citizen to volunteer in places such as places of worship or various organization within your community. In addition, joining a community group or enrolling in a new class is an easy and simple way to become integrated. If your senior is uncomfortable with meeting new people, opt for spending time with family and friends.
Overall, the importance of social interaction for the elderly is to help maintain a healthy lifestyle. Socialization provides senior citizens with the ability to connect with others, an important aspect of health that people tend to overlook. When senior citizens are fully integrated into a community, their mental and physical health will also improve. Social integration is a key component of maintaining a healthy lifestyle for senior citizens.