4 Ways a Good Social Life Improves Health of Older Adults

Do you ever wish you could get a second chance at your senior prom? For hundreds of West Michigan seniors, reliving prom without the agony of teenage angst and acne was made possible by the United Method Community House! This annual Senior Prom is just one of many community programs for older adults to get together with friends and have a good time. This Senior Prom is supported by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

While most people know that socializing is important to introduce to children early in life, we tend to forget how important it is maintain relationships throughout the rest of our lives. For older adults in particular, they may be the least likely to get the proper amount of social engagement due to economic and health reasons, such as being in a long-term care facility.

Feelings of loneliness and social isolation can be common in older adults, especially those who live alone or in long-term care facilities. It may be difficult to find new ways to meet peers and stay active in the community due to their age, health or financial situation. However, more community organizations and assisted living centers are developing events and programs to improve older adults’ physical and mental health as well as their overall quality of life.

These events can involve anything from a dance, group exercises, volunteer opportunities or even casual gatherings. Regardless of the type of events, meeting with peers and having fun hosts a bevy of health benefits, such as the following:

  1. Improved physical health
    Through regular physical activity, older adults can prevent developing common health issues such as osteoporosis, cardiovascular complications, and rheumatoid arthritis. Attending classes and starting groups for walking or workouts are fun, social ways that can help prevent these health issues.
  2. Improved mental health
    A study has shown that older adults with frequent social interactions reduce the decline of cognitive functions and hinders memory loss, which commonly occurs as a person ages.
  3. Improved emotional health
    Stress and feelings of isolation caused by issues with family or finances often intensify depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses in older adults. Social interactions and getting involved in the community can prevent older adults from developing or worsening feelings of depression or anxiety. Frequent social interaction that combats feelings of isolation and loneliness also improves self-confidence and self-worth.
  4. Increased longevity
    People who maintain relationships and have frequent social interactions with peers tend to live longer than those who are often alone and isolated due to the aforementioned health benefits.

To find programs specifically for older adults, contact your local community center, long-term care facility or fitness center. Not a lot of options in your area? Try starting your own programs at your local senior center or community center.

Be sure to check out these other A Healthier Michigan blogs on aging:

Photo credit: Moyan Brenn via Flickr

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