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Being social and having an active social life is a major way we create belonging, grow, and experience joy and happiness. Having healthy relationships and a sense of community helps us understand who we are throughout life and sustains well-being.
Social well-being is just as important, though overlooked, as physical exercise is to nurturing our health. This is particularly important for older adults who are often navigating various major changes to the ways they have been accustomed to living. Being socially engaged helps us move through the many obstacles, challenges, and new realities we experience throughout life.
Social Wellness for Older Adults
Social wellness encompasses our ability to cultivate and nurture healthy relationships, make meaningful connections, and identify and participate in activities we enjoy. This is incredibly beneficial for our mental and emotional health which shapes our well-being. Social wellness also profoundly helps us navigate difficulty and life changes. This is critical for older adults who can experience substantial change that is part of the aging process. Some examples include:
- Restricted (or loss of) mobility
- Death of a significant other or other loved one
- Development of medical conditions
- New living circumstances (for example living in a retired community or assisted living facility)
These major shifts require making drastic adjustments that can be really difficult. Change can be hard to deal with and understand. Having a community and people you rely on can help support you through these life changes. As you develop new ways of being and living which can be stressful and emotionally overwhelming, having others in your life provides you with a sense of comfort and anchor. This can alleviate feelings of isolation, anxiety, depression, and loneliness that you may feel as you approach this phase of your life.
Benefits of Being Social
There are innumerable benefits of being socially active and engaged. Being social is such a huge part of the beauty and happiness that life offers. It helps you experience the fullness of life by:
- Building community: experiencing retirement and children with their own families, drastically changes how you spend your time. No longer having a schedule that includes work and children can be difficult to deal with. It provides you with ample time that you may not immediately know what to do with. Being socially active is a great way to build new relationships, community, and create meaning of this new era of your life. Feeling like you belong and having a community not only provides you with a support system but can create new purposes.
- Supporting wellness: reinvigorated purpose can help with your identity and sense of self in this new part of life that you are trying to navigate. Having healthy connections, people, and activities you enjoy nurtures your well-being.
- Boosting overall health: being social often involves participating in activities, trying new things, developing hobbies etc. that keeps your brain and body engaged. This supports your physical and cognitive health, keeping your body energized. This can reduce the risk of developing medical conditions and sustain robust health.
Social engagement is what makes life vibrant and continues our growth as well as learning.
Building a Social Life
There are numerous ways to build a social life for older adults who are seeking social engagement. This includes:
- Volunteering: becoming a volunteer is a great way to be involved in your community and meet new people. There are many organizations always looking for volunteers including food banks, schools, and animal shelters. This also allows you to positively contribute and help others.
- Joining fitness center: various gyms and health centers provide classes specifically for older adults. Fitness classes such as yoga, swimming, walks etc. are common and a great way to remain physically active and meet others who share similar interests.
- Continuing education: community colleges and/or centers often offer courses for people interested in continuing their learning. This is a great way to learn a new skill, pursue a hobby, and meet other people you can learn with!
Being social is not always easy. It involves putting yourself out there, exploring new things, and doing so independently. But the benefits are incredibly worthwhile and can significantly enhance your quality and longevity of life! Contact us today to schedule a consultation.