The Benefits of Being Social for Older Americans

The Benefits of Being Social for Older Americans

In Communication, Family and Relationships, Hearing Health, Hearing Loss, Research by Dr. Chris Lawson

Dr. Chris Lawson
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The thought of watching the television from the comfort of the sofa may be more attractive to many senior citizens than a stroll with a friend, or a movie night. For many reasons, keeping an active social life can also slip to the lowest of a senior citizen’s list of concerns. There may be mobility or health issues to consider, or you may live too far away from family and friends.

But if you thought that not having an active social life might not negatively impact your health and longevity, you might want to think again.

The dangers of isolation

Isolation is more than a simple lonely feeling. A lack of interaction with others can result in poor mental wellbeing, high blood pressure and an overall health decline. Studies show that older adults struggling with depression and loneliness have a higher death rate than those who are more content with their lives and relationships, making social participation just as crucial as other measures to preserve emotional and physical health.

There are three main benefits of being more social as an older adult.

1. A lowered risk of Dementia

Socializing is crucial to keeping the brain active as we age, according to a study by the University of Rochester Medical Center. Having an active social life inspires us to continue learning, observe and respond to the environment around us. Conversation is a great mental exercise and can theoretically reduce the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

2. Helps maintain independence

Seniors don’t want to feel inadequate, and they don’t have to be. You will feel more energized and in control of your own decisions with active socialization and participation in various activities, as opposed to sitting in front of the TV. You may decide to take part, for instance, in painting classes or gardening.

By being socially active and choosing different groups to meet up with, the act of making one’s own decisions can lead to a greater sense of independence. You will maintain your dignity, self-confidence, and independence when engaging with other seniors who are also healthy and active, making a happier and healthier life possible.

3. More physically healthy

A study released in The Journals of Gerontology, Behavioral Sciences and Social Sciences showed that older adults who talked to people outside their normal family circle and close friends were more likely to experience higher levels of physical activity, more positive moods and fewer negative feelings.

The rationale? The scientists indicated that while older adults may be more inactive when they’re with their close friends and family— for example, watching TV together or sitting at home — they need to physically leave the house to interact with other people and will get more exercise in that way.

A good social life takes conscious effort

Before retirement, our social lives tended to grow organically. We met friends through school or our jobs. But when we’re no longer working or studying, meeting people and staying socially active requires more of a conscious effort.

Some of these proactive measures could include volunteering with local organizations, participating in a religious group, going to a senior center for services, visiting friends or family, or joining a group that focuses on common interests. Research shows that the rewards of maintaining relationships are well worth the time and effort, no matter how we choose to socialise.

Treating hearing loss helps you be more socially active

For many seniors, there are roadblocks to staying socially active. Untreated hearing loss contributes greatly to social isolation. You may not want to be with people as much, and when you are you may not engage in conversation as much.

But that all changes when you seek treatment. Surveys show that about 8 in 10 wearers with hearing aids see improvements in their overall happiness. They record less physical and mental fatigue than non-wearers, better sleep, less stress, and stronger family relationships. The explanation is simple: hearing loss makes us feel lonely and cut off from the world by failing to hear those nearest to us in our daily lives.

New hearing aids incorporate cutting edge technology and special microphones, enabling wearers to clearly understand their speaking partner even in noisy conditions such as a crowded bar or restaurant. Some also deliver sleek styles and feature Bluetooth connectivity. That way, straight through your hearing aids, you can take cell phone calls, and stream music and TV audio.

Evergreen Audiology Clinic

Most people wait for too long before they evaluate their hearing, and live with several years of hearing loss until getting treatment. Do not make this mistake. For the sake of your social life, get your hearing tested and take control of your hearing. To schedule your hearing test, contact us at Evergreen Audiology Clinic today.