The Benefits of Being Social for Older Americans

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The Benefits of Being Social for Older Americans

Peter Lucier, HIS
Latest posts by Peter Lucier, HIS (see all)

As we grow older we experience that many activities may seem more exhausting than before. Our energy is not what it used to be, at least physically. It is common for us to struggle with loneliness, social isolation and depression as we age. This could be due to a lack of mobility, a retirement, the loss of a partner or a decline in vision and hearing. However, the connection to higher energy level and a healthy social life are intertwined. When you have a healthy social life at any age it can result in a better mood, better coping skills in the face of adversity, better physical health and a sense of independence. As older Americans, we have to work harder to stay social to keep our entire health in balance.

The Importance of Keeping Social

Social isolation leads to depression and anxiety, which in turn can cause insomnia. As social isolation continues, your entire nervous system is affected, wearing out your body and your mind.  You become at a higher risk for falls and accidents as your whole body deals with the effects of sleeplessness and stress. Not only is your social life affected but your body’s inflammatory response, exasperating serious conditions that older American’s struggle with, such as arthritis, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease and even dementia. While lack of social interaction causes depression, a simple conversation, or smile from a loved one can trigger oxytocin, a power hormone that is released when you experience joy. At home, a simple hug can make a big difference in the mood to you and to the seniors in your life.

How to Be More Social

As you age, the hurdles keeping you from being social can seem daunting. Here are a few tips to help anyone who is struggling to find connection, even in the age of social distancing.

  • Online Socializing: Even if you can’t be social in person doesn’t mean that you can’t interact. This is a great time to call your loved ones over the phone or via video chat. Not only can you connect to friends and family but also the Internet is a great tool for finding friends who share similar interests as you, no matter where they are. The Internet can make a seemingly scant social life very full in the safety of your home.
  • Gardening or Adopting A Pet: This is a great time of year to start a garden. Tending to a garden will get you out of the house and out in the sun where you may have a chance to say hi to your neighbors and enjoy the day. Similarly, adopting a pet can help you feel less lonely and for those with canine companions, encourage them to get out of the house more often.
  • Exercise: Even if you aren’t going to the gym right now, regular exercise will increase your physical and emotional health. It can not only boost your mood but also help you feel the confidence to put yourself out there more for social interaction and connection.

Staying Social With Hearing Loss

Approximately six million adults over the age of 65 suffer from depression. One major side effect of depression is the lack of desire to maintain social interaction. It is also important to note that hearing loss plays into this, as 1 in 3 people over the age of 65 suffer from hearing loss.

When you can’t hear it becomes exhausting to participate in casual conversation. Your brain has to work overtime to fill in the blanks as your hearing declines. The thing is that hearing loss can sneak up on anyone as it progresses over time and can be a huge contribution to depression, self-isolation and anxiety in seniors.

If you are approaching 65 and you haven’t had your hearing tested it is best to not let hearing loss start to affect your ability to live life to the fullest. Knowing the probability, it’s a good idea to seek out a hearing test today. Most often, if a hearing loss is detected our team will recommend hearing aids.  Hearing aids will amplify the sounds around you so you can follow conversations much easier. Stay connected, stay social and stay hearing healthy by contacting us today!

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