The Benefits of Being Social for Older Americans

The Benefits of Being Social for Older Americans
Dr. Steinberg
Latest posts by Dr. Steinberg (see all)

We have always been social animals. Historically this was done to protect us from external threats, such as physical violence. But in the peace of modern-day societies it performs another main purpose, helping us ward off bad health.

To understand the effect of social connections on your body’s health, you have to consider the times when individuals are suddenly isolated. Many languages have their own special phrases to compare social rejection to the suffering of a physical injury. This is not just an analogy: these unpleasant feelings of feeling ostracised are connected to certain brain structures. The social and physiological are interlinked.

Numerous studies have demonstrated the link between support networks and the consistency of physical and mental health. Here we list some of the ways older Americans can benefit from being more socially active.

Live longer

Research showed that the feeling of loneliness is related to a premature death. The feeling of being lonely can increases the risk of death by up to 26%. A perceived loneliness may be the key factor. The study observed that simply feeling alone can be negative. But living along can also be damaging to your health.

In places where people live particularly long lives, the common denominator always seems to be the strength of social connections. Such cultures put great emphasis on social unity, whether among family, friends or neighbors.

Lower your risk of stroke

Spending time with friends might seem like a deviation from the pious, healthy pursuits you should be doing, it turns out that these activities can be very beneficial to your

heart. Studies have demonstrated that enjoying good company decreases your blood pressure and inflammation in your bodies that can reduce the risk of stroke or other brain injuries. The Harvard School of Public Health recently published a study which showed that an active social life reduced the likelihood of coronary heart disease.

Help ward off depression

Those who are feeling down might not be in the best mood to go out and see other people, but according to research, that’s exactly what you should do.  According to the Mind, Mood and Memory journal, connecting with others actually improves your mood and combats depression. They found that face-to-face interactions were more effective than emails or phone calls in improving wellbeing.

What to do to be more socially active

Although it might not seem like there are many opportunities to meet people, there are plenty of ways to stay social:

  • Volunteer at a non-profit in your local community will serve a purpose as well as keep you socially connected.
  • Working part time can keep your brain active and help you meet new friends in the form of co-workers.
  • Join a club of like-minded folks who like doing what you do.
  • Learn a new skill or hobby. This not only gives you something new to work towards, it also puts you in regular contact with others.
  • Offer childcare help to your family. They will appreciate it and you get to stay in touch with your grandchildren.

Hearing aids can help you be more socially active

The secret to communicating with the people and the world around you is excellent hearing. If you have a hearing loss, it will impair your capacity to interact socially and you are more likely than people with regular hearing to suffer cognitive decline. Fortunately, anyone with hearing loss can take steps to improve their hearing, thereby keeping the brain active, and it usually starts with the right hearing aid.

A recent study found that eight out of ten hearing aid users were pleased with their hearing aids because of the ways they have enriched their lives. In addition, almost 90 percent of those surveyed would refer to a friend for hearing aids. Hearing aid users thrive from the great changes they see in their social connections, their self-esteem and confidence, and their ability to work effectively in their job.

Elite Hearing

One important measure to help you reap the benefits of being socially active is to schedule an appointment with us for a hearing test. We can use this information to recommend the right hearing aids to keep you connected to those around you. Contact us today to set up an appointment.