Our brains are wired to enjoy social interactions. When we cooperate with each other the activity in our mind’s primary reward center increases. This is true no matter what our age. However, as we age we tend to face more obstacles in terms of our ability to engage in meaningful social interactions. For the sake of the well-being of the seniors in our lives, we need to realize that only by being together can we overcome social isolation.
At Oaks Senior Living, we recognize that keeping our seniors from falling into social isolation is especially important. According to the National Institute on Aging, there are many wonderful health benefits for seniors that are willing to continuing to be socially interactive. Social well-being impacts many older adults in the following ways:
Lower Inflammatory Factors
Age-related disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular disease, and some forms of cancer, are all linked to interleukin-6 which is an inflammatory factor. There are positive indicators that social activity seems to lower interleukin-6 in otherwise healthy aging people. By staying socially active, we see our overall physical health improve!
Many grandparents report that caring for their families, especially grandchildren, gives them a heightened sense of health. Forming and maintaining these strong emotional bonds often leads to a more active lifestyle in general, a willingness to eat healthier meals, and the ability to break unhealthy habits.
Unique Risk Factors
Social isolation plays an enormous part in the increase of morbidity and mortality, especially in older adults. Time and time again we see that people that lose loved ones and are then left by themselves see a rapid deterioration in their own health and life. Loneliness is a powerful risk factor that has both physical and emotional implications. People that are lonely will often times experience elevated systolic blood pressure. Depression can also be linked directly to feelings of loneliness.
Buffer Stress Effects
Beneficial effects of physical activity can actually be undone and reversed by people that stay in social isolation. Anything stressful added to the conditions under which a person in living can further debilitate someone’s overall health. However, if good social connections are developed, a person can buffer the effects of stress and keep the benefits from previous healthy activity longer.
Togetherness is important for us all. As we age, we need to realize that social interaction does not decrease in value but may actually be one of the most important ways for us to maintain an overall healthy life. Oaks Senior Living believes that together we overcome social isolation.