The Importance of Social Connection for Seniors

As we grow older, maintaining a strong social network is important for our overall health and well-being. For seniors living in independent living communities or retirement homes, fostering social connections is essential to a fulfilling life. This May, during Mental Health Awareness Month, we draw attention to the benefits of social connections.

The Health Benefits of Social Engagement
A report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine revealed that almost ome-forth of people aged 65 and older are socially isolated. And, according to the National Institute on Aging, social isolation is associated with an increased risk of depression, anxiety, and cognitive decline.

As alarming as these statistics are, improving social engagement can be accomplished at any age.

Senior living communitiees and retirement homes understand the importance of social connection. The many planned activities, shared meals, and and social events foster social engagement and companionship on a daily basis. It's one of the main reasons people choose to live in retirement communities.

At Horizon House in Seattle, social engagement is core to the community’s lifestyle. can choose from more than 60 special interest groups dedicated to everything from civic engagement, the arts, and activities to express their creative side. At Horizon House  friendships are easy to come by.

The Importance of being together
Vivek Murthy’s book Together, discusses the profound impact of social connection on physical and mental health. Murthy, the former Surgeon General of the United States found that people of all ages have an innate desire to connect. They do this by forging bonds with others, helping each other, and sharing life experiences.

The Role of Social Connectedness in Healthy Aging
Murthy is not alone in his thinking. According to the National Institute on Aging, social connectedness is a key determinant of healthy aging. Strong social networks are associated with better physical and mental health outcomes. And seniors who maintain social connections report higher levels of happiness, greater resilience to stress, and a reduced risk of depression and cognitive decline. By prioritizing social engagement, seniors can improve their overall health and find a renewed sense of purpose and belonging. 

 In Together, Murthy provides three strategies to help people form connections:

1.      Spend at least 15 minutes each day connecting with people you care about.

2.      During your interactions, give the other person the gift of your full attention and genuinely listen.

3.      Service is a form of human connection that reminds us of our value and purpose in life. Check in with friends and neighbors, offer a helping hand or provide helpful advice.

More Ways for Seniors to Establish Social Connection

Whether you live in an independent living community like Horizon House in Seattle or have a home elsewhere, take these steps to prevent loneliness and stay connected:

1.      Join Community Activities. Think about activities you enjoy and find out ways to get involved.

2.      Volunteer. Not only will volunteering help your community, it’s a great opportunity to meet new people. 

3.      Use Technology.  Get up to speed on technology to communicate and stay in touch with your loved ones. Share pictures through email, or have a video conversation from your computer or your phone.

4.      Take a Class. Learn to paint, play the ukulele, or take a creative writing class. Keep an active mind, and you may find a new like-minded friend in class.

5.      Be Active. Join an exercise class or take a walk in the neighborhood. Physical activity vital in preventing falls and it’s an amazing way to get to know other people.

Connecting with others provides comfort, support, and companionship and can be a powerful tool to help seniors age well. For more information about the many activities and options for social connection at Horizon House, contact us today.

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