Active and social engagement with the world around us becomes more difficult as we age; retirement, downsizing, new communities, and new faces. But being social is a key component to the overall quality of our health and life. Ensuring we experience human interaction on a consistent basis greatly improves our health by reducing the significant risks that are associated.
We're reminded often to eat right, exercise and move our bodies, but what about having fun and hanging out with our friends? As it turns out, prioritizing our social lives is just as important as prioritizing our eating and exercise habits.
Risks of Not Being Social
Health concerns of loneliness, isolation, and lack of purpose are strikingly similar to those of smoking, obesity, and lack of physical activity. Loneliness and isolation can also increase the risk of developing coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and the risk of stroke. It can also put you at greater risk for cognitive decline and subsequent problems that may occur, such as increasing the chance of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Low levels of social interaction also predict higher chances of depression and suicide. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 2 million of the 34 million seniors in the United States experience depression. Whether by choice or not, interacting with others and creating some sort of social network for ourselves will impact the status of our health.
Being Social Matters
Having social networks and friendships not only reduce the risk for multiple, and very significant health concerns, but promote independence and a sense of purpose. They can support us in times of recovery and difficulty that we may experience, creating an underlying base of support for the fulfillment and quality of our lives.The good news is that all other important aspects discussed, like physical activity and the right nutrition, can be done in social settings. If simple human interaction can decrease our depression, health risks, and promote a happier, healthier lifestyle, it makes sense that these other beneficial activities can only get better when we turn them into social ones.
There are many options for social engagement, such as volunteer opportunities or organized local and community events. Others happen over time with friends and possibly those around you; dinner with a neighbor, coffee with a close friend, or a simple passing conversation with someone who walked by. No matter how you stay social and actively engaged, remember that it's an incredibly important part of sustaining a healthy life. Is assisted or independent living the right fit for you? Speak to an advisor today: 573-544-0745