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Social Engagement: The Key to Healthy Ageing


While nutrition and exercise play a massive role in ensuring healthy ageing, so does social engagement. Interacting with others has been clinically proven to keep our brains engaged and also enhance our mood. Research continues to show that, for seniors, social engagement leads to better physical health and can significantly reduce the risk of cognitive decline.

Studies have shown that social activity can help older adults improve their mental health while improving memory functions. Staying socially engaged can also reduce depression and create an overall higher quality of life for your loved one. That old saying “Use it or lose it” rings true. If you don’t exercise your brain, it will decline in function, just like our bodies lose muscles without exercise. Socialising is an excellent workout for your brain, keeping it supple, alert and active.

Social interaction stimulates oxytocin and provides a mental workout to keep our brain engaged. Conversation requires listening, reasoning, attention, language skills and mental processing, that help keep cognitive and memory skills tuned and operational. It also boosts an older adult’s mood by improving energy levels and sense of self-worth. Your loved one may need to feel that they are heard and appreciated. As we age, we often feel we’ve become “invisible” no matter how successful and recognised we might have been in earlier life. We live in a society that overlooks our elderly population no matter how accomplished they may be.

Social interaction can help counter the risk of depression and feelings of low self-esteem, so when it comes to healthy ageing and social engagement, here are a few considerations to stay socially engaged:

  1. Utilise online communication. Helping seniors use technology such as FaceTime and Zoom is a great way to stay socially engaged. Technology today allows us to be in constant contact with family and friends, whether near or far.
  2. Online games. “Words with Friends” is a popular version of online Scrabble that connects with friends online – as well as interactive card games. While this doesn’t provide “live” social engagement, it provides connection with others and has the dual benefit of keeping the brain’s cognitive skills sharp.
  3. Group activities. Book clubs, wine-tastings, cooking classes are also going virtual. All of these offer “distance” learning and social interaction that can help keep our minds active.
  4. Exercise classes. Group exercise, Tai-Chi and yoga classes are now also available online. They should be encouraged for their social element and are a great way to keep the body and mind active.
  5. Enrol in a class. Whether it’s at a local TAFE, a course offered by a recreation centre or senior organisation, there are usually many local adult education classes available. You can learn a new skill like playing guitar the guitar or piano; or hone an existing skill such as brushing up on a foreign language.
  6. Join others for outdoor activities. Get outdoors into the fresh air together — walking, hiking and birdwatching are great for the mind, body and soul.
  7. Dancing. Dancing is great fun for seniors as a form of exercise, incorporating hand-eye coordination and an undeniable social aspect.
  8. Get involved or volunteer with local organisations.  When loneliness bites, volunteer your time at your local church, animal shelter, the library or homeless refuge where you are constantly engaging with others.
  9. Follow your passion. Do something you love but do it with others, such as crochet, knitting, crafting, woodworking, a book club or even painting. Gather up a group of people who share your interest and do it together or from a distance.

Losing ‘social capital’ as we age can have a negative bearing on both our mental and physical health, so make an effort to stay in touch with family, friends and neighbours. Connect socially with others, whether in person or remotely, via the many different virtual tools available today.

Support of an in-home care agency like Home Care Assistance, can bring enormous benefit and comfort to your quality of life while living independently at home.  Home Care Assistance has viable solutions when it comes to supporting independent living. For more information, get in touch with us.  

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