The Benefits of Social Engagement for Seniors
As seniors age, the lack of connection with others and a diminishing social life can cause an increase of depression as well as a multitude of other health problems. Depression and isolation in seniors can even cause sickness, high blood pressure and an increased risk for early death. However, seniors who maintain an active and independent lifestyle gain benefits that boost their physical health, emotional well-being and their ability to remain independent for longer.
So is there a secret to remaining happy and independent while aging? According to Peggy O’Neill, Director of Sales and Marketing at Lions Gate, a Continuing Care Retirement Community in Voorhees, New Jersey, all signs point to social engagement. “While seniors do not have control over their aging, they do have a say in how they live their lives,” she states. “Choosing to remain socially active, engaged and connecting with others can significantly benefit seniors in a number of ways. Becoming involved in social activities, socializing with friends and family and trying new things cannot only make seniors’ lives more interesting and exciting, but can also keep many negative effects of aging away.”
HOW SOCIAL ENGAGEMENT BENEFITS AGING SENIORS
- Psychological Health. Seniors who are socially engaged benefit from a bigger sense of belonging and higher self-esteem levels. When seniors connect with those who are passionate about the same things they are, it forms lasting bonds and confidence. According to the LIVESTRONG.COM article, seniors who connect and regularly socialize are less likely to suffer from depression and anxiety. They are also more likely to get help if they are experiencing mental health problems, according to the article.
- Physical Health. Those who exercise and participate in group classes are less likely to develop health problems, such as osteoporosis, heart disease and cancer. Those who are socially isolated can benefit from these group exercise programs, as the opportunity to socialize promotes an active and healthier lifestyle. Because those who are isolated are more likely to skip meals as a result of eating alone, getting out and socializing can lead to sharing meals with new friends and connecting.
- Cognitive Health. According to the article by AARP, social interaction can keep Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia away. In a quote from the article, said by Valerie Crooks, clinical trials administrative director at Southern California Kaiser Permanente Medical Group, “Whenever we have even the most basic exchange, we have to think about how to respond, and that stimulates the brain.” It is shown that those with a large social group are less likely to develop dementia and are more likely to participate in physical activities, which can also cut the risk of dementia.
With these benefits, it is important to make social engagement just as much of a priority as anything else in order to live an independent lifestyle filled with happiness and connection, not isolation and depression. According to Everyday Health®, staying socially connected can be achieved through many different mediums. For ideas on how to benefit from social engagement, read on.
TIPS FOR STAYING SOCIALLY ENGAGED & INDEPENDENT FOR LONGER
- Join a club. Think of some things that interest you or a loved one. If you or a loved one is an avid reader, find a book club to join. If gardening or woodworking are hobbies, find clubs for them. By getting together with those who share the same interests, seniors are likely to cultivate friendships.
- Play word or mind games. According to Everyday Health, by playing intellectually stimulating games with others, seniors can keep their minds active while remaining socially connected to others. Try playing games such as chess or checkers. Participate in a bridge club or poker.
- Volunteer or find a part-time job. If there are a limited number of clubs you would like to join, try volunteering for an organization that means something to you. If you love pets, volunteer at a shelter. If you care a lot about children’s literacy, tutor children in reading. Giving back and keeping involved is a very important part of engagement.
- Get involved in a church group. If religion is an important part of who you are, get involved. Attend services and socials. Make an effort to meet with church members to have lunch or join a bible study.
- Visit friends and family often. Maintaining your close personal relationships is one of the best things you can do to remain socially engaged, according to Everyday Health. Set times to do things with friends and family. Make a tradition out of Sunday brunch with your girlfriends. Play poker or golf with the guys. Make a ritual out of visiting friends and family as often as you can, and then continue to do so with new friends you make from the increased socializing you are doing.
INDEPENDENT LIVING AT LIONS GATE
“At Lions Gate, seniors have the freedom to live how they want to with a wide array of opportunities for social engagement,” says Peggy. “Our residents benefit from cultural, social and recreational activities, wellness programs and lifelong learning opportunities. They can engage in fitness programs, plays, concerts and art courses, offering opportunities to socialize and be a part of what they love the most. With Lions Gate University, seniors can even benefit from learning something new by taking one, or all, of our courses aimed at connecting others and keeping the mind sharp.”
EXPERIENCE LIFESTYLE, CARE, COMMUNITY AND TRADITION AT LIONS GATE.
Lions Gate, located in Voorhees, NJ, offers a continuum of lifestyle and care options rooted in Jewish traditions and values. Whether you are in need of Independent Living,Assisted Living, Memory Care, Skilled Nursing or Rehabilitation Services, Lions Gate has you covered.
Our mission at Lions Gate is to enrich the lives of those we serve through quality and compassionate care consistent with our heritage and values. We strive to provide programs and services that inspire well-being, as well as social, cultural and spiritual independence.
As a full-service community rich in wellness programs, meaningful experiences and educational opportunities from Lions Gate University, Lions Gate allows residents to connect with those who share their interests and cherished traditions. Our goal is to provide residents with an active, worry-free lifestyle filled with ways to connect with others, pursue their passions and be engaged in everyday life. While we focus on Jewish customs and traditions, we welcome people of all faiths to the Lions Gate family.
Through our affiliation with Jewish Senior Housing and Healthcare Service, we also offer three senior living communities for those with limited incomes.