This is the last in a series of four articles in our Fall Into Better Health series.When it comes to maintaining our health, we tend to think of more straightforward solutions like diet and exercise. But surprisingly, as we age, our well-being is heavily dependent on our level of socialization.
From better sleep and less stress to a clearer mind, there are countless benefits to a more active social life, but what might be more surprising is the role it plays in our cognitive state. Consistent social interactions and friendships can help to prevent declines in memory loss, Alzheimer’s disease, and various forms of dementia. One study found that cognitive abilities declined 70% more slowly in individuals who had frequent social connections compared to those who had little social contact with others.
Are you getting enough social activity? Here are some easy things you can do to make sure you’re getting the socialization you need to live the long life you want.
Make Time to Make Memories
Even when a lot is going on around you, it can be difficult to find the energy to get out there and be a part of it. But doing so is proven to be beneficial to your mind and body. Local community events or church gatherings are usually easy to find. They are a great way to meet new people or socialize with some of those you know. Family functions are another important social activity worth making time for and are always a good excuse to reconnect and rekindle over stories old and new. Do you have new grandkids in the family? They are just one more reason to make it happen.
Try Something New
Everyone can benefit from new hobbies and interests. Still, for older adults this can spark a new fire while providing ample opportunity to meet others and mingle. So whether it’s an interesting volunteer opportunity in the area or a book club you’ve been wanting to try, finding ways to fuel new passions or old curiosities will give you purpose and the chance to acquire the much-needed friendships you might be missing. Senior centers can be a great way to meet new people. Many offer a daily meal, along with a variety of activities.
While face-to-face interaction is the the best way to socialize, different obstacles like distance or mobility can get in the way of being where you want with the people you want. Luckily, however, technology has allowed us to feel connected even if we’re far away. Smartphone and computer apps like FaceTime and Skype are great ways to stay in contact with friends and loved ones and are fairly easy to use. Popular sites like Facebook also offer opportunities for socialization by allowing you to see and hear more from everyone on your friend list and offer group features that allow you to converse and keep up with others that share like interests or locations.
No matter where you are in life, finding opportunities to socialize and maintain positive relationships can help to benefit your body, clear your mind and fill your heart. And that’s something we can get behind at any age!
Looking for a good challenge*? We’ve included one in every post of this four-part series so that you can start today.
*PART 4 CHALLENGE
Meaningful friendships are a big part of socialization, but meeting new people can sometimes feel daunting or intimidating. This week, challenge yourself by making a point to attend one new event or gathering that involves other people and then make an introduction to at least one new person. You never know, that stranger could become a new friend in no time at all! So, don't wait any longer!