Why You Should Focus on Your Social Life as You Age
Many of life’s greatest memories are those you share with loved ones. That’s no coincidence. Humans are social creatures who tend to thrive on social interaction.
However, as you age, your social circles grow smaller, and your quality of life may falter. It doesn’t just mean that you find yourself alone for dinner or without a partner for a hand of cards; without adequate social support, you may notice an impact on your mental, physical, and even cognitive health.
Social Ties Change Over Time
In the later stages of life, it’s common to find yourself with fewer social opportunities. Once you leave the working world, those social ties tend to fade. At the same time, your friends may be increasingly consumed with managing health concerns or move away to pursue their own retirement dreams. Without kids, careers, and the energy you enjoyed in your younger years, meeting new people just isn’t as easy as you age.
Making a conscious decision to focus on your social wellness in your senior years is an important step toward protecting your overall well-being. That may mean seeking out clubs or organizations where you can meet others who share your interests, or it might mean reevaluating your living arrangements and considering an option like an independent living community, where you’re surrounded by peers with the potential to become lifelong friends.
Why Social Support Matters Later in Life
You may not realize how closely connected your quality of life and social wellness may be. Social isolation can lead to a number of mental health issues, including stress and depression, but there are also potential impacts on your health and even how long you live.
Better Physical Health
Not only can loneliness cause stress; it also triggers a similar set of biological responses in your body, which take a toll on your health in the long run. Loneliness is associated with higher levels of cortisol and inflammation, which can negatively affect your immune system. That’s why researchers have found that you may be as much as 45% more susceptible to common illnesses like a cold virus. Multiple other studies have linked loneliness and social isolation with an elevated risk for a host of medical problems, including high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and obesity, among others.
Socializing more may not be a fountain of youth, but some research suggests strong social support can play a role in extending your life span. In fact, Brigham Young University researchers found people who feel socially isolated have a 29% greater likelihood of death. Other reports suggest having a limited social life may have a greater impact on mortality than well-known risk factors like smoking or obesity.
People with more friends are often more mobile, simply because they have greater motivation to get up and out and enjoy the community. You don’t have to spend social time with a workout buddy in the gym to reap the physical benefits (although that’s always a good idea, too!). Simply enjoying an afternoon walk or exploring nearby shops with a friend adds movement to strengthen your muscles and stretch your joints for better balance and mobility.
Reduced Dementia Risk
So far, researchers have yet to find a cure for Alzheimer’s and related dementia diseases. However, there is evidence of variables that can reduce your risk of dementia—including a strong social network. A study at University College London found seniors who interacted with friends regularly were 12% less likely to develop dementia than those whose friendly interactions were more sporadic. Some studies predict as much as a 50% greater risk for developing dementia if you experience social isolation.
Slower Cognitive Decline
Dementia and related diseases aside, your social wellness may also influence normal memory loss and cognitive decline. One study followed seniors over a 12-year period and found those with a busier social calendar had 70% less cognitive decline than their less engaged cohorts.
Find a Friendly Place to Call Home
If you’re thinking about a move to a more social environment, we have the perfect place. Helping seniors enhance their social wellness is just one aspect of the enriching lifestyle our residents enjoy at The Moorings at Lewes. Our unique amenities and engaging activities keep loneliness at bay, while our dynamic living options offer the peace of mind that comes with a secure plan for your future.
Schedule a private tour or make plans to attend one of our upcoming Drop In & Discover events to learn more about making your home in our maintenance-free apartments and spacious cottages, located just minutes from the beach.