As we age through life, it’s common to fall out of touch with some friends and family. Of course, healthy relationships are important at every age – but the necessity of socialization for older adults is critical for their overall health. Studies have shown that regular social interactions help keep people physically, mentally, and emotionally fit.
One study of 2,249 women published in the American Journal of Public Health, found that older women who maintained large social networks were 26% less likely to develop dementia than those with smaller social networks. And women who had daily contact with friends and family cut their risk of dementia by almost half. Another study of 8,300 seniors presented by the Alzheimer’s Association had similar findings. Over the course of 12 years, “people who were lonely experienced cognitive decline at a 20% faster rate than people who were not lonely.” Other studies indicate that social isolation is associated with about a 30–40% excess risk of all-cause mortality – while consistent socialization can help improve your mental health and may even increase life expectancy.
Fortunately, older adults in all walks of life have options for improving their social life. Technology offers countless venues for socialization. For example, the NextDoor app is a great way to connect with the people in your neighborhood to discuss community news. And of course, facebook.com has tons of socialization options like video calls, chatting with friends and family, and even joining themed social groups. If you want to get out more, your local library or community center is a nexus of events, enthusiast groups, volunteer work, classes, and other social opportunities catering to every interest.
Senior living communities are also an excellent option for long-term, consistent social wellness. In line with their goal of promoting health and wellness for all residents, opportunities for socialization abound at senior living communities. With a community of peers, attentive staff, and daily events & activities, older adults get all the company, support and social engagement they need for their overall well-being.
Finally, a lesser-known option for older adults (particularly those who need a nursing home-level of care) to socialize more is Florida PACE Centers. PACE (Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly) is a personalized health plan and community-based provider of coordinated medical care, support services, and social engagement. Eligible participants can visit their local adult day health center to receive needed care and engage in social activities like group exercise, art classes, card games, bingo, and much more. Meals and snacks are served, and transportation to-and-from the center is provided.
Whatever option you choose for connecting with people, pay attention to your frequency of socialization to ensure your overall well-being as you age.