How Social Interaction Affects Physical and Mental Health for Seniors

A sample of 2,000 random Americans over 55 were surveyed about their social lives. Their answers had a sad tale to tell. Over a fifth of them felt lonely during half of the week. Such a situation is not healthy for these seniors. Having strong social connections is important for all humans. Do you have a senior loved one who is living at home or in a senior living community? If so, they must experience proper social interaction. Read on to learn how social interaction affects physical and mental health for seniors.

High Social Interaction

What does a high level of social interaction look like? Many experts define such a lifestyle as having the following traits:

  • Sense of support and belonging
  • Feeling loved, valued, cared for, and appreciated
  • Existence of close bonds
  • Regular and meaningful social exchanges
  • Receiving emotional and physical support
  • Having safe public areas to gather

Health and Social Interaction

By nature, humans are social creatures. To thrive, we need a strong circle of friends and family members to rely on. The lack of such a social circle can negatively affect our health and well-being. This isn’t just wishful thinking. Science has proven that there’s a connection between physical and mental health issues and poor social interaction.

Mental Health Issues

Experts have found that highly social people have lower rates of anxiety and depression. In contrast, people who aren’t very social are more susceptible to these mental health issues. The results were similar when experts looked at antisocial behavior and violence. People without many other people to depend on displayed these traits more often. Highly social people avoided this with better emotional regulation.

Physical Diseases

What about physical diseases? The results experts found were similar. Those with less social interaction had trouble recovering from diseases. They also had higher inflammation at the cellular level. Some experts even claim that low social connection is worse for health than smoking, obesity, or high blood pressure. The opposite happened in individuals with high social interaction. They had higher immunity and an increased chance of longevity. They also avoided conditions like stroke, heart disease, and dementia.

Vicious Cycle

In addition, both low and high levels of social interaction can become vicious cycles. The more people interacted with others, the more trusting, empathetic, and cooperative they became. As a result, more people wanted to interact with them. On the other hand, those who interacted less went into a downward spiral. They became more antisocial and mentally unstable. This caused them to become lonelier and lonelier and less and less healthy.

Seniors and Social Interaction

It’s no secret that seniors are more prone to several health conditions than others in the population. Seniors need to do everything they can to stay healthy. If they struggle to care for themselves, their carers need to help them improve their health. This means that seniors’ carers should do everything they can to help their senior loved ones be more social. Doing so will better their health and help them live better into their twilight years.

Better Social Interactions for Seniors

But what are some ways that you can help your senior loved one be more social? Try the following suggestions to help your senior loved ones be more social.

Interact via Technology

Many senior citizens struggle to leave their homes due to mobility issues. This is one of the many obstacles that cause them to become less socially active. Luckily, technology has made it easy for seniors to communicate with others from home. Help your senior loved one learn to use the computer if they can’t already. You can then sign them up for virtual classes and/or meet-ups. They may also enjoy playing games with others online.

Try a Local Senior Center

Many areas have a senior center nearby. These facilities offer seniors plenty of activities they can enjoy with others. A lot of these also offer social, nutrition, and education programs as well.

Senior Living Community Socialization

What if your senior loved one has to move into an assisted living community? If they do, you won’t have a lot of direct control over their social lives. It will be the job of the senior living community to help your senior be more social. However, you have power when choosing communities for seniors. Make sure the community you choose provides your senior loved ones with the social interaction that they need. Look for the following traits in the community you choose.

Providing Activities for Seniors

The best senior living community will encourage your senior loved one to interact with the other facility residents. They can do this by providing their seniors with tons of fun activities to enjoy. Such activities can include game nights, creative projects, fitness classes, and more. As you’re looking for the best senior living community, look at their calendar. Make sure that this is filled with tons of activities. If it is, you can be certain your senior loved one will make a lot of new friends.

Great Senior Carers

Your senior’s carers can also be a source of social interaction. As you tour a possible senior living community, evaluate how the staff members interact with the senior residents. Ask yourself questions about them. Do they seem like kind people? Are they the kind of people that I would want to spend time with? If the answer is yes, your senior loved one will probably be in good company.

Visit Our Senior and Memory Care Community

Seniors tend to be the most socially isolated members of any population. Sadly, they’re the ones that need social interaction the most! A senior living community can help, but it has to be the right kind of senior living community. Our assisted and memory care community can be the social haven that your senior loved one needs. At Inspired Living, our compassionate caregivers support a full life filled with activities. Learn more by reaching out to us today. All you have to do is fill out the form you can find on this page.