As we grow older, we tend to become more isolated. Friends and family move away. We tend to restrict our social outings to the familiar, which can decrease over time. Eventually, our social group grows smaller. This can lead to extreme isolation. Studies have shown that loneliness and isolation can lead to serious health problems.
Effects of Isolation on Our Health
A report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) indicates that more than a third of adults over 45 and one-fourth of adults 65 and older are socially isolated. Older adults who are isolated are more likely to suffer from chronic illnesses.
The CDC also reports that isolation and loneliness can put a person’s health at risk. In fact, studies show that social isolation can increase a person’s chance of premature death – the risk might be higher than the risks associated with obesity, lack of physical activity, and smoking. It can also increase the chances of dementia by 50%, heart disease by 29%, and stroke by 32%. Further, if a person feels disconnected from society, it increases the risk of anxiety, depression, lack of sleep, cognitive decline, and potential suicide.
Yet, many older adults find it difficult to make new friends. There are many reasons for this. It’s harder to get out, or you might be too busy with other commitments. Others may feel that they just don’t have the skills to do it anymore. Most, however, can’t find the opportunities. No matter what the reasons, there are many benefits to socializing.
Why It’s So Important to Keep Socializing
Humans need regular social interactions. Studies have proven repeatedly that a strong social network can improve both physical and psychological health as well as decrease the chances of depression, reduce stress, and improve self-esteem.
Speaking of stress, lower stress levels can also improve your immune system response, making you less likely to catch a cold or other more severe infection. Socialization can also help your mindset. If you’re having fun, you’re less likely to feel depressed. Plus, if your social group likes to get out and do physical activities, then you’re more likely to stay physically healthy over time.
How to Stay Social
Most people don’t mean to lose touch. It’s just in our nature to put certain things like friendships on the backburner. You will probably have to take the initiative and reach out. While you might feel awkward doing this, you shouldn’t. Most people welcome the chance to reconnect with friends and family.
Invite People Over
Schedule a get-together with various people, especially if it’s been a long time since you’ve seen them. You can reminisce about old time.
Take Part in Activities
There are many clubs, organizations, and informational meets/seminars that can help you find likeminded individuals. Look for groups that do things that you’re interested in, and then get out there and connect with others.
Volunteering is a great way to give back to the community as well as meet new people. You’ll usually find people of all age groups doing these sorts of activities. If you can’t commit to a regular volunteer schedule, look for groups that offer on-off participation.
Move to a Senior Living Community
Part of the reason that you might be isolated is that you’re still living in the home where you’ve been for many years. A senior living community offers a way that you can still have your own home – but with curated activities and communal dining, you have more opportunities to meet new friends.
Joining activities is key, and the right community will provide shopping outings, wellness classes, doctor’s visits, crafts, clubs you can join, and more. You can invite people you’ve just met over for tea or coffee, or you can sit with new people during mealtime. No matter how shy or reluctant you are, there’s bound to be a way for you to connect with new friends.
The Mansions Offers Many Socialization Opportunities
At The Mansions, each of our communities has its own schedule of events. We also provide regular outings to shopping districts, restaurants, casinos, and almost any other activity you can imagine. If you need help making friends, our staff is happy to make introductions to ease the way. We make socializing easy.