When you go to work every day, you probably see familiar faces, say hello to your favorite co-workers and eat lunch with at least one or two regulars. You might talk about last night’s game, a new recipe you discovered or share tidbits of your life.
Then comes retirement and you no longer have a familiar routine. You’re free to do whatever you want, and yet with that freedom often comes loneliness. It’s too easy for seniors to stay at home and spend more time alone, especially as their mobility decreases.
Why Social Interaction for Seniors is Important
Maintaining relationships and spending time with others is essential to a senior’s emotional and mental well-being. It can help prevent depression, which is prevalent with seniors. In fact, some studies indicate 20 percent of the population over 70 years of age suffer from depression. There are many causes, but it’s often made worse by the fact that people who were once active now spend much of their time alone.
Socializing keeps the mind active. The Alzheimer’s Association recommends seniors connect with others to help maintain brain activity. The improvements are greater when the person is involved in fun interests with other people.
How to for Seniors to Stay Socially Involved
People who have spent most of their adult lives in a scheduled routine will benefit from finding a regular hobby. It may be a book club or a bowling team, but scheduled social pursuits give seniors something to look forward to on a regular basis.
They can also plan regular get-togethers with friends, such as a weekly lunch date with another senior or their kids or grandkids. It’s important to include both family and non-family members in the schedule.
Retirement centers and assisted living facilities often provide leisure interests to allow socialization, even for those with limited mobility. They may have crafts, sing-alongs and other events that encourage seniors to get out and visit with others. Those who don’t feel safe going places on their own still have the opportunity to enjoy time with friends and have fun.
The truly adventurous senior can enjoy new experiences and new people by signing up for a tour designed especially for those over the age of 55. While this may seem like the ultimate endeavor, it’s just as important to spend time in regular socialization on a smaller scale. Those who are in good health can visit nursing homes and spend time with others who can’t get out or be as active.
Getting Online as a Social Activity for Seniors
According to a study conducted by Pew Research back in 2012, about half of seniors are online. The research was updated in 2014, and now shows about 71 percent of seniors are online every day. Of those who are online, their main reason is to stay connected with family and friends. Approximately 75 percent of those in the report said this was their top motivation.
These statistics show the importance of socializing for seniors, including keeping touch online. Social media and email allow seniors with limited mobility the opportunity to interact with others. They can join forums or chats and visit with people they don’t know. They can spend time with family and friends and share photos and stories with those who are too busy or live too far away to visit in person.
The Internet has given seniors a way to be involved, including those who can’t get out in society the way they once did. Those who don’t understand how to set up profiles or create social media accounts can receive help from others. Community centers and senior programs often have experts to teach seniors about the Internet and how to function, so they learn enough to participate in the online community.
Spending time with others is essential to a senior’s mental and emotional health. It also impacts their physical well-being. It is important for seniors and their family members to encourage more social interaction, even if they have limited mobility and can’t enjoy the same events and friendships they once did.