With the absence of child rearing and demanding careers, seniors – many for the first time – finally have the opportunity to engage in numerous activities and maintain active social lives. However, the reality is that most seniors, experiencing the losses associated with aging, become isolated and risk suffering from debilitating depression rather than staying socially active with friends and within the community. The health benefits associated with maintaining an active social life are substantial, however. The Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) found that elderly people who maintain an active social life have a slower rate of memory decline. According to PubMed Central, socially active and productive people also live significantly longer than those who are not.
Here are some activities that will aid in keeping seniors independent and engaged with the world around them:
• Meals with Peers: Seniors may have difficulty with preparing meals or lose interest in food if they become depressed. Shared meals can take place in the home or at senior centers – many of which include transportation. Sharing meals with one’s peers provides the social interaction necessary to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
• Engage in Social Media: Social media allows those who are homebound or isolated to talk, share and laugh with others. The elderly are able to participate in conversations and see those who they otherwise might not see regularly. Many senior living communities offer how-to classes on social media outlets. Engaging in video chats allow friends and family to stay in-touch with loved ones.
• Get Involved in the Community: Experience Corps was created for seniors to mobilize their time, talent and experience. With EC seniors are given the opportunity to act as tutors and mentors to children in participating communities. Senior Corps is another program that gives seniors the opportunity to give back. By offering numerous programs that seniors can engage in ( i.e. counseling new business owners and teen parents, building houses, etc.) they are sure to develop and maintain an active social life.