As school children, we’re surrounded by classmates and teammates. As employed adults, we have coworkers. But as we age, those interactions tend to diminish, making it difficult for older adults to stay connected with others.
The benefits of social connections among older adults cannot be overstated. Studies have shown that social isolation and loneliness are linked to numerous health conditions, including high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease. They can also lead to an increased risk of depression and anxiety.
Other studies have shown that, in many cases, a more robust social life keeps older adults more active, especially when it includes interactions from various social groups and diverse activities. And one study showed that it’s connections with friends—not family members—that have the greatest impact on overall health.
How Older Adults Can Stay Connected
Social contact doesn’t have to be in person to provide health benefits. Simply keeping company with others over the Internet has been shown to increase well-being. One study tracked a positive long-term effect of daily Internet use (specifically, emailing) among those over 50. Here are some other ways to stay connected, both remotely and in person.
Get online. Social media isn’t just for young people. It’s a great communication tool for older adults as well. Sites like Facebook are helpful for keeping in touch with long-lost friends and relatives. Commentary sites such as Twitter and some online news outlets let you safely interact and exchange views with people all over the world. Not sure how to use social media? There’s no shame in asking a tech-savvy grandchild or friend for help.
Embrace technology. Computers, tablets, and smartphones make it easy to stay connected with others, albeit virtually. Emailing, texting and video chatting via platforms like FaceTime or Zoom give you options for getting in touch at any hour of the day. You can also participate in group virtual events like movie nights, happy hours, or trivia.
Pick up the phone. It may seem simple, but sometimes just picking up the phone and calling a friend is the best way for older adults to stay connected. Friends always appreciate a casual call to say hello, even if you haven’t spoken in a while.
Volunteer. Now that we’re transitioning back to in-person activities, it may be time to consider volunteering again. Food banks, libraries, churches, and animal shelters are all in need of helping hands. Signing up lets you do something special for others while you get the benefits of staying connected.
Pick up a new hobby. Meet folks with similar interests fast by starting a new hobby, especially a group activity. Hobbies that involve exercise, arts and crafts, playing games, or reading as part of a book club will naturally bring you together with new friends—or help you reconnect with old ones. Cumberland Village has a robust calendar of activities, so residents can socialize while having fun at the same time.
Meet your neighbors. One of the easiest ways for older adults to stay connected with others is by getting to know their neighbors. All it might take is a “hello” for friendship to flourish. With our built-in network of support, here at Cumberland Village connections come easily and lifelong friends are made.