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Why Staying Social is Good for Your Health

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February is historically when we think of those we love and how much they mean to us.  But the good news is just having good friends and companions can be very good for our health.  In fact, the benefits of socialization are a vital part of healthy aging. And when you are around friends every day, as in a community setting, the benefits are multiplied.

Benefits of socialization for seniors:

  • Enhanced cognitive health. Keeping your brain constantly engaged in activity and interaction sharpens your mind and reduces risk of cognitive decline. Your brain is “working” to maintain relationships. Staying socially active as you age can reduce risk for various mental health issues including depression and Alzheimer’s disease, making the benefits of socialization essential. One study found that 60-year-olds who visited with friends almost daily were 12 percent less likely to develop dementia than those who only saw one or two friends every few months.
  • Improved memory. Other benefits of socialization include reduced stress and isolation, which in turn may improve memory. Research has shown that seniors who socialized retained their episodic memory better than groups that didn’t. Being surrounded by friends and loved ones keeps an aging adult’s mind active and sharp.
  • Reduced stress and pain. Older adults who are socially active handle stress better. This is important because prolonged stress can lead to or aggravate high blood pressure, a weakened immune system, anxiety, depression, insomnia, heartburn, indigestion and an increased risk for heart disease. And when it comes to benefits of socialization that we can enjoy every day, studies show holding hands or even a brief hug can lower blood pressure, and the positive effects last all day.
  • Strengthened immune system and better overall health. Being around others who matter to you can raise your “feel good” hormones, giving you focus, energy, and optimism. You will be more motivated to maintain good physical health as opposed to less socially engaged peers. This can lead to lower blood pressure and reduce the risk for some cardiovascular problems, arthritis and some cancers, not to mention improve nutrition as we tend to eat more in social settings.

Greater longevity.

And what might be one of the most attention-getting benefits of socialization: research from the Assisted Living Federation of America showed that seniors that were more active socially were more likely to live past the age of 90, and on average lived 5.4 years longer than those who were less engaged. This can be linked to the increased physical and mental stimulation that seniors with more active social lives enjoy.

Social capital is the key to maintaining the benefits of socialization.

Social capital is how we refer to the types of personal connections that build trust and support participation. Research indicates that social capital offers health benefits that may be especially important for seniors. And while it’s true that as we age, our social capital can decline—we retire from the workplace, our friends may die or move away, our family members are busy with their lives—there do exist opportunities to “reinvest” that capital as we grow older. 

One way is by living in a vibrant, friendly setting, such as is found in a senior living community. Activities, programs, events and more keep residents engaged and connected, with ample opportunities for sharing experiences with peers and building meaningful relationships. 

Having someone close by to support and engage you gives you a sense of purpose, adds joy to your life, and keeps your mind active.

Isolation and loneliness can be harmful to both the emotional and physical health of seniors. The good news is the benefits of socialization are many—and well within your grasp.

Stay socially connected at Peregrine Senior Living

At Peregrine Senior Living, it is our goal to help our residents focus attention on living their healthiest lifestyle. Our unique approach to senior living encourages seniors to explore growth through new interests, goals, and friendships. We invite you to learn more about The Peregrine Way™ and how we empower our residents to thrive each and every day. Schedule a tour of our campuses and find out if we are a good fit for your future. 

Written by
Stephen Sarsfield Bowman

More Articles By
Stephen Sarsfield Bowman

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