The Benefits of Being Social for Older Americans

The Benefits of Being Social for Older Americans

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.

A Healthy Diet Can Lower the Risk of Hearing Loss

A Healthy Diet Can Lower the Risk of Hearing Loss

You can support your hearing in lots of ways, from reducing exposure to noise, to wearing the right kind of ear protection, but did you know that what you eat can also play a part? Two recent studies have confirmed that your diet may affect your hearing.

Study #1: A poor diet can lead to poor hearing health

A recent study that was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that young adults with inadequate early childhood diets were twice as likely to experience hearing loss as their counterparts.

Experts at the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health have studied the connection between diet and hearing health by analyzing the hearing of 2200 young adults in Nepal. Such young adults had already taken part in a clinical experiment that took place between 1989 and 1991, when they were elementary-age children. Researchers compared their hearing from 2006 to 2008 and found that those who has lower-than-average weight and height (as a result of malnutrition) showed signs of hearing loss significantly more often than those of normal height and weight.

Study #2: A healthy diet can lead to good hearing health

A Brigham Women’s Hospital study has suggested that eating a healthy diet can minimize the risk of developing hearing loss.

Using survey data obtained from the Nurses ‘ Health Study II Conservation of Hearing Study (CHEARS), they looked at three-year alterations in hearing sensitivity to certain frequencies of sound and found that women whose nutrition habits were more closely aligned to commonly recommended healthy dietary patterns had a significantly lower likelihood of age-related hearing loss.

To measure hearing, audiologists employed by the researchers identified changes in the pure-tone hearing levels of the participants, in order to discover the absolute quietest sound that they were capable of hearing. Then, the research team cross referenced these test results with how tightly the women’s diets adhered to the ideal of a healthy diet using on over 20 years of dietary information that had been gathered on the women.

“The association between diet and hearing sensitivity decline encompassed frequencies that are critical for speech understanding,” Curhan says.

Which nutrients should I prioritize to promote healthy hearing?

Brigham and Women’s Hospital experts confirmed that women who stuck to a healthy diet closely, such as the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet or the Alternative Mediterranean Diet (AMED) diet, were less likely than others to experience compromised hearing. Here are some of the common nutrients to be gained through these diets.

  • Folate: Folate is most commonly linked with prenatal vitamins because it is an essential nutrient to take during pregnancy. Yet folate’s advantages don’t end at birth. High intake of folate is correlated with a reduced risk of hearing loss from aging. Have your fill with spinach, kale, roman lettuce, kidney beans, chickpeas and lentils.
  • Omega-3: By upping your intake of omega-3 fatty acids, you could be delaying the arrival of hearing loss through aging. Although we usually have our fill with fish oil soft gels, more delicious ways to get enough is to eat salmon, sardines or mackerel. If you’re not into fish, you could also try walnuts or chia seeds.
  • Potassium: This is an important nutrient for regulating the fluids in your body. You may not realize that the ear is also home to a number of important fluids too! Try including some sweet potatoes or bananas in your diet.
  • Magnesium: A study of 300 respondents found that although they lived in noisy environments, those who drank a magnesium-rich drink daily were able to sustain better hearing. Food high in magnesium contains bananas, peanut butter, onions, artichokes, almonds, black beans and brown rice.
  • Vitamins C and E: Both of these vitamins have antioxidants which prohibits damage to healthy hearing-linked cells. Eating citrus fruit, almonds, sunflower oil, or peanut butter can integrate Vitamins C and E into your diet.

Evergreen Audiology Clinic

You are taking a big step towards protecting your cognition in older age by simply booking an appointment with us at Evergreen Audiology Clinic. If there is hearing loss present, we will be able to recommend hearing aids to suit your specific hearing needs.  These devices can help immensely not only on your social interactions, mood, and quality of life, but also on your capacity to concentrate as you age.