While many of us are, rightly, concerned about the importance of physical health as we get older, it can sometimes be easy to forget how remaining social can be extremely beneficial for mental and physical health.

Studies have shown* that a strong social life can be linked with a plethora of health benefits, a decreased risk of developing depression, and a longer life span – to name just a few.

With socialisation being such an important part of life, and good for maintaining mental and physical health, just what are some ways for older adults to socialise? And how can socialisation in retirement be achieved?

Why is socialisation in retirement important?

Humans are social creatures by nature, and we tend to function better when we’re in a community setting and surrounded by others.

Loneliness and isolation can cause mental health challenges at any age. But as you get older, you can be more likely to experience them, due to either mobility issues, changes in social groups, or the loss of family, partners, and friends.

Loneliness** and long-term isolation can cause several negative impacts on health, such as:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Impaired executive function
  • Accelerated cognitive decline
  • Poor cardiovascular function
  • Impaired immunity
  • High blood pressure
  • Increased risk of clinical dementia

Scientists and researchers suggest that, while many older adults engage in sedentary activities or family visits at home, engaging in social activities outside the home requires them to be more active.

Ways for older adults to socialise

Unfortunately, older adults are more likely to experience isolation than the rest of the population. Which is why to prevent the negative effects of isolation, it’s important for seniors to stay engaged and social throughout the day.

Here are some ways you can enjoy socialisation in retirement.

  • Join an exercise class. Depending on your level of fitness, there are classes available for all abilities, from Zumba and dance, to yoga and pilates. Do something you love – or why not try something completely new? Classes can be a great way to meet new people and keep you active.
  • If you have lots of time on your hands and want to do something to give back to the community, then why not try volunteering? This is a lovely way to meet new people, gain new skills, and make a big difference in your community. Do.it.life has several sources to find local volunteering opportunities in your area.
  • See if there are any group activities you could get involved with in your library, community centre, or religious building. They often have free or low-cost activities that go on throughout the year.
  • Arrange weekly dinners or lunches with friends. You can each take it in turn to choose the location and enjoy a meal together.
  • If you are physically fit and able, consider adopting a dog. A furry friend makes a wonderful companion in the evenings, and you can meet lots of new people when taking it out for walks.
  • Consider moving to a retirement village, where older adults have the opportunity not just to own their own beautiful home, but be a part of a thriving community of peers. Many villages offer a range of inclusive facilities, such as outings, classes, group activities, and communal eating and drinking areas.

Benefits of socialisation for the elderly

Socialisation not only helps you feel less isolated and lonely, but can improve mood, cognition, and memory recall, and is associated with healthy lifestyle habits, such as exercise.

Here are some of our favourite health benefits of socialisation for seniors.

  • Support system

Staying in regular close contact with family and friends helps to not just create a support system, but maintain it. This can help you emotionally, as well as providing assistance in times of need.

Getting out and about to see friends and family is great. But you can also set up Facetime and Skype to stay in touch with those you love who are far away, or who might not be available to meet up in person that day.

  • Increased mental awareness

When you regularly interact with others, it can help keep you mentally alert and may even decrease your risk of developing dementia***.

The benefits of socialisation for the elderly can even have a positive impact on dementia, as a lack of socialisation can exacerbate the symptoms. A study found that older adults who socialised more at the age of 60 were less likely to develop dementia later in life.

Socialising keeps you connected to the outside world, which can help you maintain or improve cognitive abilities.

  • Helps physical discomfort

Physical conditions, such as failing joints and arthritis, become more common as you age. However, when you remain social, not only can physical activity help strengthen your body and help alleviate your discomfort, but the distraction of being with others can take the focus away from it.

  • Physical activity

Being social doesn’t just mean inviting others around for a cup of tea. You can head out and meet up in a coffee shop, enjoy a gentle walk around the park with others, or join in with a fitness class.

Whatever you choose to do, if you make the conscious effort to regularly head out, you’ll be partaking in physical activities, which can help your physical health in the long run.

  • Help depression

As we’ve already discovered, isolation and loneliness can cause you to feel depressed and out of touch. If depression is left untreated, it can lead to more serious consequences.

Social contact and the knowledge that you have a circle of friends, peers, and family around you can help prevent or fight depression.

  • Improves mood and quality of life

Isolation and depression are known to be linked, and the opposite is also true. Seniors who engage in regular socialisation have been known to enjoy a higher quality of life.

Socialisation has been shown to reduce agitation by the same level as antipsychotic drugs, meaning making an effort to be social can have amazing mood-enhancing benefits.

Enjoy socialisation in retirement

As you get older, there can be a natural tendency to be less active, settling into inactive routines and becoming less social.

At Santhem Residences, you have a whole community of peers just waiting to engage with you. An exciting, supportive, and active new life is at hand to hp you beat isolation, and discover a fulfilling way to enjoy socialisation in retirement.

Our thriving community of neighbours and friends, as well as our range of luxury services and facilities, are on hand to reward you with the retirement you deserve. To find out more, download our brochure or give our friendly team a call today.

*Harvard Health Publishing – June 2019

**American Psychological Association – May 2019

***British Heart Foundation – August 2019