Socialization: that’s just something teens do and preschoolers try to master, right? Yes, technically it is. But, it’s much more than that-socialization is important during all stages of life. From the time that you’re a baby all the way through your senior years, social interaction is necessary to your health and overall well-being.
It’s pretty common for seniors to feel isolated and alone as they age-especially if they are aren’t living in a nursing home or assisted living community. Just because your loved one is in their twilight years doesn’t mean they don’t need a full social life.
While going out on the town every night of the week isn’t realistic for a senior, your grandmother, grandfather or elderly relative does need some serious social interaction. Why? Take a look at the ways in which socialization benefits the elderly.
1. Brain Boosters
Cognitive skills may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you read the word “socialization.” However, research indicates that there is a connection between social interactions and mental health. Not only does socialization help to improve overall mental health, but it may also reduce the risks of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
Keep in mind, socialization isn’t a cure for dementia or cognitive decline. Researchers aren’t entirely sure why the two are connected. That said, they do see promise here. Even though you can’t completely fight off Alzheimer’s or dementia by making sure your elderly loved one gets plenty of social interactions, it certainly won’t hurt to do so.
2. Fighting Off Depression
Being home alone or isolated from others isn’t exactly fun. Loneliness can quickly lead to sadness, and eventually depression, in the elderly. Obviously, senior living communities seek to remedy this situation by providing plenty of social opportunities. But, what happens when a senior is living alone?
Visiting or home healthcare providers, family and friends can come to the senior’s aid, helping them to stay active and social. The more companionship a senior has, the less likely they are to suffer from depression. Of course, visiting grandma or grandpa a few times a year won’t cure existing depression, and the senior may still feel isolated or sad at times.
But, creating a caring community around them will help minimize the effects of age-related loneliness and reduce the symptoms of depression. That said, if your loved one shows signs of chronic depression, such as lacking energy, refusing to eat and not seeing visitors, you need to seek help from a professional psychologist.
3. Health Benefits
Along with the mood-boosting benefits, socialization can also help an elderly person’s health, because positive mental health affects a person’s general health as well. This doesn’t mean that constant social interactions will cure a chronic condition or get rid of an existing disease. However, socialization has been shown to boost one’s mood. This mood-boosting benefit reduces stress and anxiety, and it’s this stress reduction that may improve overall health.
Think about how you feel when you’re stressed. Suddenly you feel achy, your stomach is in knots, you’ve got a headache and you feel tired. The same goes for an elderly loved one who is stressed and anxious. A community of friends or peers surrounding them can reduce these negative feelings and positively impact their health.
A little socialization goes a long way towards improving a person’s life. This remains true when it comes to your elderly relatives. If you believe that your loved one needs more companionship in their life, then contact Queen City Homecare. Our compassionate staff is always willing to discuss home healthcare and support options for the elderly.