When older adults move into their retirement phase, they face many changes in their daily life that present unique challenges. Emphasizing physical, emotional, and mental wellness as they age is essential to promote healthy aging.
However, one aspect of wellness many don’t consider for older adults is social wellness, which can contribute significantly to feelings of happiness and contentment. So, what is social wellness, and why is it important? Let’s find out below.
Social wellness is an aspect of self-care focused on creating connections with peers, friends, and family members to build meaningful and lasting relationships.
By having an active social life, older adults will improve their mental and emotional well-being, possibly resulting in a prolonged lifespan.
There are many benefits to maintaining social wellness in the lives of older ones. Let’s examine a few below:
Interestingly, increasing their social circle size can benefit older adults’ health. Cultivating healthy relationships can positively affect the endocrine system and cardiovascular muscle function.
A healthy social life can also produce higher levels of immunoglobulin A in the body, an antibody that can prevent the development of respiratory infections and cavities.
Further, a robust social network can also reduce stress and help older individuals better respond to stressful situations.
According to certain studies, older adults who are regularly socially active will experience improved cognitive function, particularly while engaging in brain-stimulating activities like board games or playing cards.
Many older adults face social isolation after retirement, which is one of the main contributing factors to increased symptoms of depression.
However, by maintaining an active social circle, older adults will spend more time out of the house with friends and family, which can help them feel more positive and content, reducing their chances of developing depression.
In the same vein, knowing that they have people who love them and enjoy their company and cultivating good friendships can help improve a person’s mood and enhance their self-esteem.
There are many different things older individuals can do to enhance their social circle. For example, those living in retirement communities can enjoy various activities and social events scheduled by the retirement home, share meal times with their fellow residents, and invite their neighbours over for tea or coffee.
Other things older adults can do to create a more broad social network include the following examples:
As mentioned above, retirement communities will often have social activities planned that older adults can partake in, such as dances, wine tastings, and other group events.
Older persons can also take advantage of activities outside of the retirement home. For instance, visiting community coffeehouses or recreation centres is a fantastic way to connect with locals and meet people of different ages and backgrounds. These places often have events like live music and karaoke or activities like board games and cards that anyone can participate in.
If you’d like to connect more with your community, volunteering is a great way to meet new people and serve the needs of the locals in your area.
Working in community gardens, tutoring, reading to young children, and other similar volunteer activities provide an excellent opportunity to form meaningful connections while doing important work.
Joining an exercise class is an excellent way to both form new connections and look after your physical and emotional wellness.
Joining walking groups, low-impact aerobic classes, and other similar activities is an excellent way to meet and visit with new friends while doing something equally beneficial for your mind and body.
Use different social media platforms if you’d like to keep in touch with long-distance friends and family regularly.
Having an account on a popular social platform will allow you to remain up to date with the events in the lives of your loved ones. You can leave uplifting comments on each other’s photos and videos or use the instant messaging features to enjoy a one-on-one conversation!
There are other things older adults can do to improve their social wellness apart from simply making and spending time with friends.
To cultivate meaningful and lasting relationships, communication, understanding, and support are important aspects of friendship to develop, and can be achieved by doing the following:
We all have different needs that require nurturing, and it’s essential to be aware of those needs to communicate them to your loved ones. Focus on cultivating friendships with individuals aware of your needs and boundaries and strive to meet them.
It’s important to let them in to cultivate closeness with others when we need help and support. While we may wish to handle tasks and problems on our own, allowing our friends and families the opportunity to help makes them feel useful and builds closeness and trust in your relationship.
Social wellness is an aspect of personal care that focuses on building, cultivating and maintaining a robust social network. For older adults, social wellness is vital to preventing depression and isolation, maintaining a positive outlook, and enjoying a full life.
Older adults can enhance their social life by participating in events and activities scheduled by their retirement home, participating in volunteer activities, and connecting with friends and family through various communication channels. They can also improve their social wellness by communicating their needs and boundaries to their loved ones and allowing others to help when they need support.