Being social is more than just having fun. According to the Center for Advancing Health, elderly people who are socially active and maintain or increase interactions with others as they age have a slower progression of health declines than elderly people who are less socially engaged. How can you help seniors stay social? Here are three ways:
Seniors stay social by connecting with their social networks.
Be sure to ask your aging loved ones details of all social opportunities they’re involved in. Can you make suggestions about social activities they can participate in around the Pittsburgh area or their local community? Something as simple as arranging for a ride from a caregiver or neighbor to a favorite meeting place can help reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness. Encourage them to make friends with neighbors in the community. Include your aging loved ones in your life by inviting your aging parents or grandparents to spend time with you and your children.
Seniors stay social by volunteering.
Volunteering helps seniors stay social by maintaining volunteer, they have a unique opportunity to meet new people, work in close collaboration with members of different generations, and learn new things. All of these things combine to create a healthy environment in which seniors can actually thrive and grow, regardless of age. Additionally, volunteering is an excellent way to encourage a depressed or shy senior to get out of the house and participate in something new, which can build confidence and reduce the risk of depressive symptoms.
Some seniors volunteer for organizations like Habitat for Humanity or Meals on Wheels. Volunteering in such a way can be an excellent avenue to stay active. Activities such as giving tours, helping build low-income housing, delivering meals, or playing with children, can help seniors remain active, which can help decrease the risk of bone density issues and arthritis. Staying physically fit can also help seniors prevent dementia and other symptoms of cognitive decline. In a volunteer environment, the senior has many reasons to stay fit, including a community mindset that helps encourage activity and a group with which to be active on a weekly basis.
Seniors stay social when they have something to nurture.
Many experts note that the act of nurturing can relieve feelings of social isolation. In the peer reviewed paper “Emotional Benefits of Dog Ownership,” Eve Beals outlines the benefits of nurturing a pet: “Pet owners remain engaged socially, have less depression, suffer less loneliness, feel more secure, have more motivation for the constructive use of time and require less medication than non-pet owners. Animal companionship facilitates establishing friends, is a social lubricant, gives a reason to get up in the morning and is an icebreaker.” Obviously, you would need to make certain that the senior is capable and willing to properly care for the pet before giving a pet as a gift. Assuming the senior is capable of caring for a pet, nurturing and caring for an animal companion can be quite beneficial. Even tending a garden can satisfy our nurturing drive, so giving a senior a plant or gardening supplies as a gift can be beneficial too.