If you don't already know, social interactions help to improve your physical health, mental health, and overall quality of life by providing you with companionship, support, and a sense of belonging. Strong social connections can also provide opportunities for learning new skills and exercising your brain as you age. While the picture shows a child-adult connection, ANY contact with another human has an effect.
Here are six ways that social connections can help you age gracefully:
Preserves Physical Function and Mobility
Studies have shown that being socially isolated can lead to reduced physical activity, poorer health, lower bone density, and a higher risk of disability as we age. By staying active in your social circles, through regular get-togethers with family and friends, or by joining a local community group, you can help to preserve your physical function and mobility as you age.
You can walk with or read to young people, or you can form a group to work on memory. You stimulate feelings. As a general rule if you start with something that involves moving the body around - any part of it- then you will be off to a good start. The body is the only part of you that stays in the present tense.
Helps Reduce Stress and Improve Mood
When you begin to move, however slight the motion, it is remarkable what happens when you move somehow in concert with another. Think getting a lift up off the beach. Think dancing. Think massage. When you touch another it is your brains and hearts that touch.
Being socially isolated can increase feelings of loneliness, anxiety, depression, and stress. On the other hand, having strong social connections can help reduce these negative feelings by providing support from others. Studies have also shown that interacting with others on a regular basis has been linked to improved mood, increased happiness levels, reduced symptoms of depression in seniors, and better overall quality of life.
Helps You Stay Cognitively Sharp
As we age, it's normal for our cognitive skills to decline, but maintaining active social connections can help slow down this process. By staying engaged with others through activities like volunteering, playing games, and socializing, you can keep your brain stimulated and help prevent cognitive decline as you age.
Try a book club. Go to Life Long Learning groups at your local community college.
Helps Reduce Your Risk of Illness
Studies have shown that socially isolated people tend to have a higher risk of developing chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and respiratory illnesses. In contrast, having strong social ties is linked to better overall health and possibly even a longer lifespan due to lower levels of stress hormones in the body. Therefore, staying involved with others on a regular basis can help you stay healthy, both physically and mentally.
Lowers Your Risk of Dying Prematurely
Social connections and strong relationships are essential parts of a happy and healthy life, which is why it's so important to maintain these relationships as you get older. By staying involved with family, friends, and your community, you can continue to enjoy the many benefits of having social connections – including a reduced risk of dying prematurely from any cause.
Maintaining strong social connections can help preserve your physical function, improve your mood and cognitive abilities, reduce your risk of certain illnesses, and even lower your risk of premature death. Whether you strengthen existing friendships or build new connections, taking steps to stay socially involved will undoubtedly help you age gracefully and happily.
Happy Days Ahead!