For many older adults, the opportunities for social activities often diminish along with health and energy. As illness or mobility troubles limit what they can do, their risk of isolation increases. Connecting with others who love us and share similar interests is important at any age, but for seniors, whose lifestyles may lessen their social opportunities, these connections are crucial to healthy physical and emotional well-being.
The Issues with Isolation
According to Nancy Clanton, Community Relations Director at Tuscan Gardens® of Venetia Bay in Venice, FL, social isolation is a big problem for seniors. “Isolation goes beyond just loneliness,” Clanton says. “A lack of connection with others can be a slippery slope, leading to poor emotional health, high blood pressure and a decline in physical health. Studies show that older adults who suffer from depression and isolation have a higher mortality rate than those more satisfied with their lives and relationships, making socialization just as important as any other facet of maintaining a healthy lifestyle.”
Benefits of Staying Social
More than combating the negative effects of isolation, seniors who enjoy an active social life experience an array of benefits that help to enhance their overall well-being. Key benefits include:
- Enhanced Mental Health
Isolation is one of the leading causes of depression in seniors. Loneliness can easily turn into feelings of worthlessness and despair. On the other hand, socialization can help older adults feel loved and needed, as their lives are affirmed by the activities they do and by those with whom they interact. Being around other people, especially if you’re doing something fun or rewarding, helps us keep a positive outlook on life and a healthy mental state.
- Sense of Belonging
Enjoying the company of others who have similar personalities or interests helps us feel like we belong somewhere. For those who may have lost a spouse or a close friend, the need to belong may be more intense. Socializing with others can cultivate new friendships, and doing something meaningful together creates lasting bonds.
- Better Self-Esteem
Self-esteem can plummet for those who are alone too often or those who have trouble doing as much as they used to. The more seniors socialize or participate in activities with others, the more they benefit by feeling like they contribute to their community. Any kind of positive interaction with friends, family or neighbors can help us feel confident in ourselves and our abilities.
- Improved Physical Health
When we have good conversations or do things we love with others, our bodies take note and release health-promoting chemicals that boost the immune system to ward off illness and make us feel physically well. Also, socializing promotes an active lifestyle and better nutritional intake. Seniors who are socially isolated are more likely to skip meals, whereas those who are socially active often share meals with friends and family.
- Increased Cognitive Functioning
According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, socialization is key to keeping the brain sharp as we age. Having an active social life encourages us to continue learning, observing and responding to the world around us. Conversation and activity are great for exercising the mind and can potentially lower the risk of the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
No matter what our age, we are more likely to keep ourselves well if we have people holding us accountable. Seniors are less likely to develop habits of declining self-care if they’re around others they care about. Socialization creates reasons to stay well and helps foster a positive state of mind.
- Purposeful Living
Staying social benefits seniors by helping them feel that their lives still have purpose. Having somewhere to go, something meaningful to do or people to see helps us get out of bed, excited to face the day. When we cultivate strong relationships with others, we gain a sense of fulfillment, and spending quality time with those we love reminds us that life is worthwhile.
Socialization Takes a Proactive Approach
The benefits seniors gain from staying socially active are clear; yet, it often requires some effort in order to enjoy them. Just like eating healthy and keeping physically fit, socializing doesn’t usually happen on its own.
In her article “The Importance of Socializing at Senior Living Communities,” United Methodist Homes Vice President of Marketing & Promoting Elizabeth Bemis, MA, says, “Human nature leads us to crave fulfilling relationships with other people. As we age, however, life circumstances may push us toward loneliness and isolation unless we take proactive steps to cultivate new relationships.”
Some of these proactive steps could include volunteering for local organizations, getting involved in a church group, going to a senior living community to participate in programs, visiting friends or family, or finding a group that focuses on similar interests. No matter how seniors choose to socialize, research shows that the benefits of nurturing relationships are well worth the effort.
A Community of Connection
For seniors who may be suffering from isolation, moving to an Assisted Living community can be a good solution for enjoying the benefits of socializing. The founders of Tuscan Gardens of Venetia Bay understood the positive impact of connection on seniors’ lives, and they dreamed of a community where neighbors and caregivers became friends and family.
“The Tuscan Gardens way of life is truly unique,” says Clanton. “We’ve removed every obstacle for our residents to experience the best quality of life possible. Every facet of our community, from life-enriching programs to meals in the Tuscan Kitchen, fosters an environment of connectedness with those around us. There’s always something to do and someone to meet. Our socially rich community gives our residents a sense of purpose each day, excited by their opportunities for engagement.”
The Art of Living
At Tuscan Gardens® of Venetia Bay, we’ve mastered the art of living. We’ve perfected the balance of personalized support and an uplifting lifestyle, helping our residents experience independence, joy and meaning every day.
Offering supportive independent living, assisted living and memory care services for families in Venice, Florida, Tuscan Gardens of Venetia Bay was founded with one simple, yet profound goal – to create a community worthy of our parents. In all we do, we are guided by the principles of family, culture and engagement, working to represent the remarkable way of life our families deserve.
Luxury, intimacy, opportunity, passion and beauty combine to create what the Italians call sprezzatura – a culture of effortless elegance. The essence of our community is made up not only of mere aesthetics, but an artfully designed lifestyle to bring out the best of what each day has to offer. From dedicated care that respects residents’ individuality and dignity to a lifestyle that nurtures their love of life, Tuscan Gardens was built to be more than just a residence, but a place to call home.