Health benefits of socialising within your community
Most senior citizens are already taking important steps to improve their overall health such as exercising, eating a healthy diet and giving up smoking.
It’s an effective list for improving health but here’s another, less familiar, thing that senior citizens should also consider: getting engaged in community services.
The social interactions you have with others and the connections you continue to build into your senior years have a huge impact on your overall wellbeing, especially for those who are availing of supported independent living. Studies have shown that seniors who make an on-going effort to stay active in the community and engaged in relationships enjoy a range of health benefits, including:
Better cognitive function: Social engagement and leisure activities play an important role in maintaining cognitive function in our later years with research showing that those who have large social networks show better cognitive function than those who do not.
Social interaction and community service involvement have also been shown to reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Improved emotional health: Elderly people who are socially engaged tend to have a greater sense of purpose in life than people who are less engaged in community services. This has been shown to lead to improved emotional health.
Better physical health: Senior citizens who engage in community services tend to be more active, which in turn improves physical health through an increase in social activities. By becoming involved in the community, senior citizens may also become more driven to maintain their physical health to keep up with their social commitments.
Better physical health in seniors is known to reduce the risk of:
- Cardiovascular issues
- Alzheimer’s disease
- High blood pressure
Stronger immune system: As you get older, your immune system begins to weaken and becomes less effective in fighting infections. By staying active in the community, you can help protect against illness by boosting your immune system.
Many senior citizens experience isolation which can lead to feelings of loneliness and depression, which is known to compromise immune health, so becoming involved in community services and increasing social interaction are an important part of healthy aging.
Better sleep: Sleep issues are a common problem facing senior citizens, and lack of sleep has been linked to chronic diseases.However, seniors who lead a healthy social life and have friends with whom they can share their thoughts and problems are less likely to suffer from stress and tend to sleep better.
Happier life: When retirement age comes around and you no longer have a familiar routine, it’s easy to become lonely and isolated.Socialisingwith otherslifts your spirits and makes you feel loved and involved.Senior citizens who have an active social life through community services are generally happier, enjoy life and are less likely to be worried.
Build a community with opportunities for socialising
Maintaining relationships and remaining involved in the community is essential to everyone’s emotional and mental well-being, but for many senior citizens, continued involvement in the community doesn’t happen on its own, especially for those who have just moved into supported independent living accommodation.
To reap the benefits of having an enjoyable social life, start by connecting with those around you and pursuing your hobbies. Here are 6 ways that older adults can build a healthy social life through community services:
- Volunteer – Helping others in your community can be an incredibly rewarding experience. Try contacting your local library, animal shelter orhomeless charity to see if they need an extra pair of hands.
- Join a hobby club – Most communities and supported independent living facilities have hobby-based groups that regularly meet up to play cards, do art and crafts, read books and discuss common interests. Try asking those at your supported independent living accommodation, local community centre or church to see which social clubs you can get involved in.
- Take a class – People who have spent most of their adult lives following a weekly routine through work or family commitments will benefit from finding a regular class to attend. Try joining a class to learn something new like a foreign language, new technology or how to bake. You’ll probably find that there are so many great classes in your area that it will be hard to choose what to participate in!
- Join a gym – Joining a gym or fitness centre can help you to stay physically fit and keep up with your peers. Exercise can also help to relieve chronic pain from conditions like arthritis as well as preventing the development of diseases such as obesity and diabetes. Exercising with limited mobility can be difficult but there are still a range of gentle activities that you can participate in such as yoga, aerobics and chair-based workouts.
- Visit family and friends – Building and maintaining positive relationships with family and friends can open up many opportunities for social engagement. Try to plan regular get-togethers with family or weekly lunch dates with other senior citizens who live nearby or are in supported independent living accommodation. Those with young grandchildren could offer to babysit or take the kids out for an activity.
- Get online – Social media and email allow senior citizens to interact with family and friends online. By joining social media platforms, you can share news and photos with family and friends who are unable to visit in person. There are also many online classes and forums you can join to meet new people and build an online community around your interests.
Build lasting relationships with ConnectAbility Australia
How you build a healthy social life in your local community depends on your individual circumstance, physical limitations and interests. Unfortunately, because of distance or busy schedules, it can sometimes be difficult for families to provide the necessary support needed for senior citizens to maintain a regular social life.
ConnectAbility Australia is here to assist senior citizens throughout Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, Port Stephens, Maitland and other Lower Hunter local government areas. We want older people in the area to get involved in community services and run programs to give older adults living in the community or supported independent living accommodation the support and engagement they need to boost their overall wellbeing.
Friendship Club: Our Friendship Club is designed to provide social support to senior citizens. At our group meet-ups, you can enjoy morning tea, lunches and a variety of activities such as entertainers and guest speakers.
Community Program: ConnectAbility Australia’s community programs are held in The Jesmond Community Hub. We support the participation and inclusion of all members of our community and attendees can enjoy weekly events and workshops, book exchanges, yoga and snacks every Friday from 12 noon until 2:30 pm.
Contact us for information on community services for senior citizens
We are here for you and your family members whenever you need us. If you would like more information on supported independent living accommodation or have a question about our many community services for senior citizens you can contact our team in Warabrook on (02) 4962 1000 or in Central Coast on (02) 4349 3700.