One of the biggest concerns about loved ones as they age is the risk of social isolation.
According to the Administration on Aging, those over 65 represent almost 15% of the population. This number is expected to double by the year 2060. With the percentage of our aging citizens on the rise, it is important to recognize the cognitive and physical benefits of socialization on healthy aging. Regular social interaction between seniors helps to:
• Improve self-esteem
• Decrease loneliness
• Reduce depression
• Strengthen psychological well-being
• Enhances communication skills
• Build relationships
• Boost memory, potentially decreasing the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease
Whether it be at senior centers, adult day care programs or through structured therapeutic recreation programs in a skilled nursing facility, there are many ways to ensure that older adults maximize their social potential. Building on past or current interests is key to keeping seniors engaged. For those who enjoy playing cards, something as basic as poker, canasta or even a game of crazy eights with others not only allows them to continue to pursue their past interests, but also it provides an opportunity to foster social relationships based on a common thread. For others who are more adventurous or outgoing, joining a book club, a modified yoga class, or sports club can help promote feelings of purpose and enhance quality of life. Participating in meaningful, structured activities enables a person to engage with others, develop friendships and feel a sense of belonging.
Factors such as decreased mobility, cognitive or physical changes or other health conditions should not hinder a social lifestyle. Socialization contributes to keeping the mind sharp and studies have shown exercising the mind with conversation and activity can potentially decrease the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and mitigates the effects of chronic illness. Encouraging an aging loved one to become a social butterfly can be the best advice you can give to help improve their vitality in the golden years.
The Gurwin Jewish Family of Healthcare Services offers a variety of services that enhance socialization, including social and medical adult day care programs, home care programs, therapeutic recreation programs within the skilled nursing and assisted living communities. Call 631.715.2000 for more information or visit http://www.gurwin.org.