Some people are completely fine with being alone. They can keep themselves happy and busy with hobbies like outdoor activities, crafts, reading, and watching TV. Others become depressed and bored without daily social interaction. Even those people who thrive when alone, however, can be susceptible to loneliness as they age and their hobbies get further and further out of reach due to physical limitations. As seniors become more immobile, they need human contact to stimulate their minds, encourage them to stay as active as possible, lower their blood pressure, and promote other positive health benefits of social interaction.
National Institute on Aging (NIA) Research
The NIA, a division of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, has released information from several research studies that show a strong connection between social interaction and its health benefits for seniors. Below is a summary of their findings.
Senior socializing is consistently associated with biomarkers of health, which act as an indicator of the presence or absence of a disease state.
People who socialize have been associated with lower levels of interleukin-6, which affects inflammation in people who have age-related conditions, like Alzheimer’s disease, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease, and some cancers.
Many grandparents feel that the health benefits of social interaction with their grandchildren empowers them to be more active and lead healthier lives. Some people are even encouraged to stop bad habits, like smoking, by their grandchildren.
Long periods without socialization increases the elderly’s risk for morbidity and mortality.
Loneliness and depression can cause physical effects, like higher blood pressure.
The combination of loneliness and depression can also have negative effects on well-being for seniors, as well as middle-aged adults.
Keep Your Mind Sharp by Socializing
Improved brain function is a health benefit of social interaction. In fact, if you’ve ever seen films, like Cast Away, where the characters spend time in isolation for years, you may have noticed that they lose social skills and have a bit of trouble interacting with society when they finally return home. There is a saying that goes, “If you don’t use it, you lose it.” Life skills need to be practiced or performed regularly, or they will slowly fade away from you. You can think of socialization like learning a second language. If you take a few years of classes you can speak the language pretty well, but when you stop studying and speaking it, you won’t be able to speak it so well in future years.
Socialization is similar to completing a crossword puzzle. It gives the brains a workout through mental stimulation and helps keep cognitive functions sharp. When seniors are socializing regularly, they can handle stress better and have less anxiety, which is easier on their cardiovascular system. Improving cognitive function can also help prevent Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and other types of dementia, as well as improve memory retention. The health benefits of social interaction have also been associated with increased longevity and self-esteem.
1Heart Caregiver Companionship
As senior family members age, they begin to lose touch with friends and family. Much of the time, this is due to the immobility that comes with age. When loved ones are caregivers, it’s not easy to juggle the everyday responsibilities of senior care with those of work and taking care of younger family as well. There isn’t always enough time to give everyone the attention that they need. This is where 1Heart Caregiver Services can lend a helping hand and give your loved one the health benefits of social interaction. Not only can our professional caregivers assist with daily activities like hygiene, laundry, housekeeping, meal prep, and transportation, they are also caring and compassionate people who can have meaningful conversations and enjoy socializing with seniors.