The Importance of Socialization for Seniors

The Importance of Socialization for Seniors

As we age, things in life that we once took for granted, such as a network of close friends, become harder to maintain and renew. This is often due to friends relocating to be near family, reduced mobility, or the need to relocate for health reasons, leaving once close-knit friendships torn apart as a consequence of aging. For some seniors, this results in loneliness, isolation, and eventually – depression. Medical professionals are only now recognizing the scale of the problem as well as the huge benefits that socialization has for seniors, which is why, here at Northeast Adult Day Care, we thought it would be a good idea to fill you in on the unique benefits that maintaining a healthy social life can have for you in your senior years. 

The benefits of socialization

Doctors now know that the hormones released as a result of stress and depression – both of which are major results of an asocial lifestyle, increase the risk of major health issues for the elderly. As a result, increased socialization can:

  1. Lower the chances of developing heart-related issues, certain cancers, and even osteoporosis and rheumatoid arthritis.
  2. Increase cognitive function, lowering the potential risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
  3. Lower blood pressure.
  4. Decrease overall stress.
  5. Reduce the risk of developing mental health issues such as anxiety disorders or depression.

With all of these benefits, it seems that taking steps to ensure a healthy social life well into old age is a no brainer – but with so many living and housing options or seniors, which ones will allow you the freedom to live a truly social life into your twilight years?

Socialization and senior living

We’re now going to take a quick look at the three main options taken by seniors in the US and evaluate them with regards to the benefits of socialization.

  1. Aging in place – Aging in place allows you to stay in familiar surroundings while you age, keeping that individuality that you may lose with a residential care home. Many people feel that this is the ideal way to live when they’re older, but those living in this way into their senior years are more likely to suffer from isolation and loneliness as they often have few outlets for maintaining or forming social relationships.
  2. Assisted living facility – For those that need round the clock care, an assisted living facility or residential care home may be the best option as they’ll have all the necessary facilities on site. It can, however, be an expensive option, and while it offers a level of socialization with other residents and staff, it's often not necessary for many seniors, particularly if they're not yet in need of round the clock care.
  3. Adult day care – Adult day care has a focus on socialization but also includes medical facilities and everyday care so that seniors can come together in a place that’s safe, familiar, and fun to socialize with like-minded people. For those that need round the clock care, this option may not meet all their needs, but for the majority of elderly citizens, it offers a place for regular socialization and comfort on their own terms. It’s a place where they can balance their social life with their independence. This option is often more affordable than residential care and even home care, while often having the same medical benefits with the added bonus of that all-important socialization factor. 

It’s important to recognize that everyone’s needs are different and that whatever living arrangements they choose, it should be done with the intention of optimizing their quality of life. With the newly emphasized importance of socialization to the wellbeing of seniors, it’s important to consider this as a major factor when deliberating over future senior living arrangements and care.