Out and About: Seniors Need to Be Social, Too

It’s summer, younger kids are out of school, older kids are home for their longest break of the year, and there are activities galore to fill up the “spare time.” If you have children in your home, then you’re the one coordinating and providing transportation to these myriad amusements and your plate is likely full to overflowing, especially when you add in your own social events, work, and family time. What about vacations and reunions? In our younger years, summer was all vacation, but as adults it can be a very busy season, indeed. What happens to the seniors in our family during this hectic time?

Your elder family members may not be getting out as much as they used to. Even if they were once a social butterflies, dashing from one engagement to the next, their social life may have slowed significantly over the years since retirement. Have you considered how you could include your older family members in your activities? Have you encouraged them to get out amongst their peers?

Maintaining strong social connections increases life expectancy and decreases age-related conditions. Social isolation increases the likelihood of loneliness and depression and can lead to apathy and a sedentary lifestyle. A negative state of mind can influence habits and dietary decisions. The benefits of improved physical and mental health make a strong case for a good social life.

The benefits of continued social interaction include reduced risk for:

  • cardiovascular problems
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • some forms of cancer
  • osteoporosis
  • rhematoid arthritis
  • depression
  • high blood pressure

Maintaining a healthy social life is as important, and actually positively contributes to, maintaining your physical health at any age. There are plenty of ways for seniors to stay connected, whether they have already retired or are still working. In addition to planning time together yourself, consider encouraging them to reach out to other family members, friends, and neighbors to coordinate a few activities. There are plenty of things to do: join a bridge or scrabble club, volunteer, visit friends, join a group, take art or dance classes, join an exercise program, or nearly any favorite activity can be found in a group setting. If your senior loved one is experiencing mobility issues, you may want to look into hiring a senior caregiver or someone who can assist you in finding the best assisted living placement in Richmond VA. 

Which activities have worked the best for your family?