The thought of getting older can be a bit daunting for many of us. As we age, many things start to change both mentally and physically. We know that the best way to stay healthy as we get older is to look after our body and brain by exercising regularly and eating well. However, experts now think that staying social is just as important to ageing well.
The Benefits of Staying Social As We Age
As we get older, our brains start to change, which can make it more difficult for us to learn new information or to remember things. There are some things that we can do to try to slow cognitive decline as we age. Keeping our minds stimulated and interacting with our peers can help reduce the chance of depression as we age, and in some cases, even ward off dementia, which is an extremely common health concern for seniors.
In fact, a recent study from the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Centre found that seniors who are highly social have a 70% lower rate of cognitive decline than their less social peers. In addition, researchers at the University of Alabama in Birmingham discovered that Internet use was associated with a 30% decrease in symptoms of depression in older adults.
How to Stay Socially Engaged As We Age
There are a number of ways that we can stay connected socially as we age. Being around others and hearing their thoughts and opinions can help us stay intellectually stimulated. The following are some of the things we should do to stay socially (and mentally) engaged as we get older.
Keep In Touch with Our Networks
While we may be feeling more tired than we did when we were younger, with less energy and motivation to do social activities, it’s important to put in the effort to maintain the personal relationships that we have with family members, friends, neighbours, and the other people that have been important to us previously. If these people are no longer living close by, we can simply get online and keep in touch with them by sending some emails or connecting on Facebook. The 74-plus demographic is the fastest-growing group across online social networks as it has become easier for older adults to navigate the Internet. But, if you are one of the people who struggles to get online, don’t worry. There are courses available that teach technology classes to help seniors get active online and stay connected through social media.
Try Out A New Club
There may be a centre for seniors in your local area that you can contact to ask about clubs for people in a similar age demographic. Alternatively, you can find out what clubs are available in your area by doing a simple Google search. These clubs don’t necessarily have to be aimed at seniors; just find something that you are interested in and go along to see if you enjoy it. There will likely be regular book clubs, gardening clubs, or art and craft clubs running in your area. Regularly attending one of these meetings is a great way to get to know new people and create relationships with people who have similar interests. Check out the Ageless Grace® class if you’re interested in dance, movement and fitness.
Volunteer in Your Community
We have a bit of extra time on our hands when we have retired from work. Volunteering in the community can be a great way to create a feeling of purpose by contributing to a good cause. Volunteering Australia can help you find out about volunteer opportunities in your local area, and give further information on how to get involved. Volunteering has a number of benefits for seniors, such as preventing feelings of isolation and depression, promoting physical activity and being good for mental health.
Offer Help to Family Members
As the old saying goes, ‘charity begins at home.’ If you don’t want to volunteer with a charity, or if you already do that and are still looking for something else to keep your mind and body busy, helping out family members can be just as rewarding. If you have grandchildren or other young family members, you could offer to babysit on a regular basis. Not only does this mean that you will get to see young relatives more often, but chasing around after children is a great way to keep you physically active and improve your sense of well-being.
As we age, it’s not uncommon to start to withdraw both socially and intellectually. However, if we make an effort to stay engaged as we get older, we will experience a more joyful and satisfying life.