As our loved ones grow older, we want to make sure that they are healthy and safe. But along with their physical wellness and safety, their social wellness is just as important to their wellbeing. Having a network of family and friends to turn to in times of crisis and celebration is very important to their quality of life.
What is social wellness?
Social wellness refers to connecting with those around you and building a strong social network of meaningful relationships. Staying socially active can be a positive influence on a senior’s mental and physical health. Plus, it may help them be able to live independently longer.
According to the National Institute on Aging, some of the benefits of staying socially active include:
- Resistance to certain diseases: Taking part in social and leisure activities may lower the risk of developing some health problems such as dementia.
- A longer lifespan: Research shows that seniors with strong social connections may live longer than those that are isolated.
- Less chance of depression: Social isolation is one of the causes that can lead to depression in seniors. Maintaining current relationships plus building new ones helps reduce the chance of depression.
- Better preparedness to cope with loss: Having a strong social network for support can help with stress and loneliness from losing a loved one. Studies also suggest that taking part in volunteer activities can help with positive feelings.
- Improved cognitive abilities: Some studies have shown being socially active and taking part in cognitively stimulating activities with others (such as playing chess, taking classes) can help preserve or improve the cognitive abilities of seniors.
Where can your loved one find social support?
Family members often are the main source of social support for seniors. But if your loved one is alone and does not live close to their family members, you may need to research and suggest other ways for them to socialize and build relationships. Here are a few suggestions for places your loved one can get out to socialize and build friendships:
- Community groups such as senior centers are good places to find activities and friendships.
- Senior living communities promote socialization by offering opportunities to join groups or take classes covering many interests.
- Organizations that have volunteer opportunities are a good way for seniors to use their skills to mentor others and build relationships.
But what do you do if your loved one is housebound? If they receive in-home care, their caregiver can be a friendly, familiar face and would be an excellent source of socialization. Simple things such as phone calls, letters, and cards are good ways to keep in touch. Social media also offers a wide array of options to connect with other people. Facebook is designed to help keep family and friends connected. Pinterest offers a wide range of topics to share pictures and comments with others.
Whatever options you might choose to encourage your loved one to stay socially connected, By Your Side is here to assist in the care of your loved ones. Plus help keep them socially active and involved.