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Social Interaction: Strengthening Our Senior Citizens
A social life is important to everyone, but it is absolutely critical for most seniors. As people age, they often find they need a strong support system—family, friends, coworkers, even pets—to give life meaning. Simply being seen is a vital yet under-discussed psychological need for nearly all people.
Seniors, especially, have a deep need for healthy, social interaction. Friendship helps maintain stress levels, build connections, establish memories, and stimulate the mind. Here are some of the most important ways in which strong social interaction helps senior keep active and happy.
The psychological benefits of a good social life are plentiful and diverse. Developing connections with people, maintaining lifelong relationships, and keeping up conversational skills can help develop the mind, maintain lifelong thought patterns, and keep up neurological connections.
- Alzheimer’s patients with active social lives have shown great results in several studies. Additionally, research suggests that a healthy social life can serve as preventive care for dementia. The brain is a machine which must be maintained, and social interaction involves many complex, neuron-building tasks.
- Motivation also comes with social interaction. If you’re happy, you’ll take care of yourself. Simple as that. Healthy friend networks have the effect of getting you out of bed, reading up on dietary advice, and generally getting you in gear.
- Social life is self-generating. A little social interaction can become a large social interaction no time. People, especially people in elder care circumstances, create tight, lasting bonds. A day at the coffee shop can turn into years of taking walks and talking about life.
- Social networks provides a natural defense against abuse. Abusers target isolated people. People with friends are less vulnerable. Abuse can take many forms, and occasional visitors may not get a close enough look at nursing home conditions to notice the signs. Friends can protect one another.
Socialization doesn’t just make you happy. It makes your body healthy. Research demonstrates many big benefits of friendship and social interaction for seniors. Some of these benefits are the results of the psychological benefits, clearly, but in some cases, it appears that the mind has mysterious effects on the body. Make friends to build health.
- The brain gets stronger as it makes and maintains connections. Psychologists and neuroscientists are still investigating the specific mechanisms involved, but the evidence is clear that speaking with people helps keep the brain strong and active.
- Nutrition goes hand in hand with friendship. People who cook together, eat together, and plan meals together take care of each other and themselves. Good nutrition helps nearly any physical ailment you could care to name.
- Exercise, like nutrition, is easier to maintain in a social context. And like nutrition, a good exercise routine will help an aging person with almost every problematic condition he or she is dealing with. A walking or jogging group is great way to build bonds as well as build health. Friends motivate one another.
- Other physical benefits, such as improved blood pressure, improved lung capacity, and even a decrease in likelihood of some cancers, may come with an active social life.
Seniors need social lives, the same as anyone. Friendship builds bonds for psychological and physical, and it’s crucial that older adults maintain their bodies as well as their minds.