How Important is Socializing to Aging Seniors?

As people age, socializing must rank right up there with diet and exercise on the ladder of importance.  When a spouse dies or an aging senior becomes ill, sometimes family and friends withdraw simply because the person no longer fits into their lifestyle. Instead of keeping busy and finding new friends, many seniors often become depressed because of their growing loneliness. Unfortunately, loneliness can lead to other problems such as alcoholism, heart disease, or even cancer.

When my mother died after a long illness, Dad started going to the Senior Center the very next week. Not to meet anyone, he was never interested in finding another companion or spouse, but just to have others to talk to. Fortunately, he reconnected with a former neighbor whose wife passed away a number of years ago, and they still continue to eat together on their Senior Center days.

Socializing can extend years to a senior’s life

Experts say that seniors who enjoy an active social life often extend their lives by years. There are an abundance of benefits for socializing other than life extension; stress reduction, a feeling of importance, and a feeling of high self esteem are just a few of the benefits.

Often, seniors must make an effort to become involved rather than waiting for someone to come to them. Getting involved in the community or joining other organizations soon after a spouse’s death can mean the difference in seniors wallowing in self-pity or enjoying a healthy mix of friendships and outside activities.

Attending church, joining clubs and making or nurturing old friendships takes effort, but the benefits are enormous.

Find others that share the same interests

Being around people who have the same interests will help a senior enjoy life even more. Sharing old memories and creating new ones are the best medicine to keep someone from focusing on the negative side of life.

Joining an activity that’s new or challenging, such as dancing classes, are especially helpful for seniors because they are able to participate in an activity while meeting new friends.

Socializing is as good for you as exercise

A recent research study from Harvard University advocates that socializing for seniors has as many benefits as regular exercise. Having a job, whether paid or volunteer, is also an important and valuable way that seniors can socialize. Feeling needed and helpful is extremely important to the elderly person and can make all the difference in his or her life.

Human contact can help prolong our life

Most of us rely on human contact for our very survival, unlike other species in the animal kingdom. From the time we are born, we depend on our mother and father to feed and take care of us. In our later years we may need to depend on others to drive us to the grocery store or take us to a doctor’s appointment. Throughout most of our life we find we must depend on other human beings in one way or another.

It’s not surprising that as we age socializing with others becomes more important than ever. We need all types of stimulation, including contact with others who share our interests and opinions. Getting out and socializing with others is the best medicine we can take in order to live a fulfilled life in our senior years.


5 thoughts on “How Important is Socializing to Aging Seniors?

  1. Hi Edie; What a great article to remind us that our seniors should not be forgotten. Just like young people (school age) the need to fit in and have that socialization is very important. I agree it feels good to feel needed and looked upon for your opinion. To have someone to share with means a lot to someone who’s alone with no one to talk to. I think it’s especially helpful to have others in your life when your alone because say for example you don’t show up for a regular get together with friends and this is not like you to not show up without notifying someone in your group this will put up a red flag for someone to check up on you. Sometimes the elderly don’t want to be a bother to us. It’s up to us to let them know they’re not a bother and we depend on them just as much now as we did when we were younger. We have so much to learn from the elderly. If we would just sit down and talk with them . Not everyone wants to be left alone. Loneliness is a terrible feeling. It can consume one very quickly if left to grow. I had once heard a comment by an aquaintance who stated running in to some one and commented “I tried to avoid her because I knew I’d be stuck talking to her forever”. Well you know maybe this woman is lonely and when she has the chance to talk with someone she can’t help herself and talks you ear off for 10 or 15 minutes. Is that such a bad thing? Would you be watching the clock if you ran into a buddy and started talking about the football game or baseball game? Or about the new restaurant with the greatest food you’ve tasted in a long time? Probably not! People need to remember that we’re going to get old someday too. We’re not going to be young forever and able to get around with such ease. Or go to the store on our own or to the doctor or pharmacy or whatever. We need our elderly just as much as they need us – if not perhaps more. Some of us just have to wake up and smell the “proverbial coffee” and think of someone else’s feelings besides our own. Keep the informational articles coming!!

  2. I agree that eldercare facilities are not for everyone. My cousins put my aunt in a semi-assisted living and she kept falling and having other problems. They took her out and she lived with one of my cousins for the next seven years until her death at 92. She thrived in their home, especially with numerous grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and others around her all the time. Depends on the family dynamic, I would think.

  3. Ditto…good post and great site. We work with seniors to help them age in place. There are some good benefits to moving to an eldercare facility, like socialization, but many seniors want to stay in their own home and utilize senior centers, church, and other groups to socialize. Either way, it’s extremely important for healthy aging.

  4. Krystal, thanks for stopping by. My hope is that I can help others while they are caring for their loved one by providing information they may need.

  5. What a great site. I am learning a lot about elder care. Really appeciate having all these articles to read as it helps me care for my elderly grandfather. Thank you.

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