The holidays are over, and what was supposed to be the most joyous time of the year may have actually been a time that represents sadness for many older adults. Memories of family members that have passed away, struggles from an illness or lack of social interaction may start to cause loneliness and isolation.
The need for love, support and attention does not go away as we grow older. A healthy social life is just as important later in life as it is when you are younger. Consistent relationships and social interactions help keep people mentally, physically and emotionally fit.
Research has shown that adults 60 years and older who reported feeling lonely had a 59 percent greater risk of mental and physical decline than their more social counterparts.
Social contacts tend to decrease as we age for a variety of reasons, but that doesn’t mean the opportunity to socialize and build relationships isn’t there. What are some ways to stay social as you age?
- Volunteer – Find an organization you are passionate about and volunteer your time to make a difference. Not only will you meet others that share similar passions but participating in meaningful and productive activities will make a positive impression on your health and the community.
- Exercise – Joining a gym or trying a new form of exercise is a great way to stay healthy and meet new people who will help hold you accountable. Getting out of the house will help keep you active and improve your mood. Whether it’s a walking club, yoga class, water aerobics or anything in between, local gyms, community centers and health clubs have many senior group fitness classes to offer.
- Explore – Traveling to new places is exciting, but also difficult for many. Most people are unaware of what attractions their own community has to offer. Take time to visit the museums, theaters, landmarks, parks and beaches that you’ve always passed but never stopped to enjoy. The hidden treasures you find may surprise you. Bring a “travel buddy” to make the experience extra meaningful.
- Learn – Start a new hobby. Join a class for the thing you’ve always wanted to learn but never had the time. Learning new activities can help improve memory, enhance problem solving skills and boost mood. You may pick up a new favorite pastime and a new friend to do it with.
The health benefits of staying connected and engaged as you age are endless. Making a move to a senior living community may seem unnecessary, but a maintenance-free lifestyle with a comprehensive calendar of programs and activities for all preferences, may be just what you’re looking for. Finding a community that embraces holistic wellness, nurturing the body, mind and spirit, is key to healthy aging and quality of life.