Living a long, healthy life takes so much more than just getting 30 minutes of exercise every day. In fact, there are a total of eight dimensions of wellness that all have an impact on our overall health, including physical, emotional, social, intellectual, occupational, spiritual, environmental and financial. Social wellness, while just one element of those eight dimensions, provides some of the greatest benefits on our overall health and well-being.
Social wellness refers to the relationships we build throughout our lives, how well we maintain them and how we interact with others. Connecting to those around us while nurturing and growing our relationships is a crucial component of a healthy lifestyle. In fact, studies have shown that seniors who interact socially on a regular basis may even be able to live independently longer.
Social contact is proven to be just as effective as physical activity for improving your mood; helping you maintain better emotional, cognitive and physical health. Some of the benefits of getting involved in social activities for seniors include:
A stronger immune system. Studies reveal that seniors who are lonely tend to have elevated levels of proteins associated with inflammation and poor immune systems, while the immune system tends to be stronger in seniors who have strong social connections.
Less risk for diseases. Chronic conditions and diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s disease and even some cancers are noticeably reduced in seniors who participate in social activities.
Cardiovascular health improvement. Research shows that isolated seniors tend to have higher blood pressure, which equals a greater risk for cardiovascular disease.
Reduced depression. Seniors who build and maintain relationships are often at less risk for depression, as social isolation tends to be one of the key factors leading to depression in older adults.
Longer life. Overall, seniors who focus on their social connections are healthier and live longer than those who are isolated. In several studies, social connectedness was found to be a strong predictor of mortality.
In order to enjoy the health benefits listed above, it’s vital that seniors prioritize social activities in their lives. Maintaining social wellness gives a sense of belonging and keeps you connected to the world around you. What are some of the best ways for seniors to continue to build relationships? A few ideas include:
Volunteer work. Volunteering is a great way to keep you socially connected, and it provides a satisfying feeling of accomplishment. If you’re physically capable, consider volunteering within your community, whether it’s walking dogs at the local animal shelter, assisting at a hospital, or putting the skills you’ve learned throughout your career to good use. At Advent Christian Village, many of our members enjoy a number of volunteer positions, such as helping in one of our Village shops, answering phones during staff lunch breaks, or giving tours.
Join a club. Think about activities you enjoy the most. Like reading? Find a book club. Is golf your game? Check around for a local golf club. Joining a club helps you meet others with similar interests, allowing you to share experiences and build new relationships.
Expand your mind. Look for an interesting class at a community college or senior center. These classes help keep your brain sharp while providing an opportunity to meet new people.
Head back to the workforce. You don’t necessarily have to go back to a full-time, 9–5 type of job. Instead, look for part-time options that are low-stress and keep your hours to a minimum. Working even just part-time is a great option for keeping your mind stimulated while connecting with others.
Try out the gym. Improve your physical fitness levels and engage with others at the same time! Of course, you can also simply reach out to others. Schedule daily calls or weekly lunch dates with friends and family members. Offer to watch the grandkids for a day; any activity that allows you to interact with others.
Advent Christian Village recognizes the benefits of social wellness for our members, and we can ensure plenty of opportunity to enjoy a full calendar of things to do with your friends! From a variety of clubs and volunteer opportunities to health and wellness programs, we offer a lifestyle that feeds your body, mind and spirit. Contact us today for more information.