The Benefits of Being Social for Older Americans

In Hearing Health, Hearing Loss by Jennifer G. Mayer, Au.D., CCC-A

Jennifer G. Mayer, Au.D., CCC-A

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We are well aware of the benefits of physical activity for our health, particularly as we get older. Whether physical activity looks like a jog in the park or simply a walk at a shopping mall while buying a birthday gift, getting your body moving keeps all the gears turning as they should. It’s almost as if our bodies get stuck in their ways when left alone, so we need to make sure we are moving to keep the energy flowing freely. However, did you know that physical movement is not the only form of activity that is necessary to keep us healthy? Social activity has also been shown to have remarkable effects on our health and well being, particularly as we get older. Let’s take a brief look at some of the ways to stay socially active before considering some of the social opportunities that are available.

Benefits for Physical Health

It may come as a surprise, but social activity actually contributes to our physical health in a number of ways as we get older. Those who are socially active and connected tend to have lower rates of cardiovascular problems, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and even some forms of cancer. Being social can lower blood pressure, boost immunity, and contribute to better nutrition. Some of these connections might have to do with the relationship between social and physical activity. When we go out to meet friends and family, we are more likely to be mobile, promoting that energy flow through the body. However, there are other social benefits to health that have to do with feelings of connection and mental agility.

Benefits for Mental and Cognitive Health

In addition to these relationships between social activity and physical health, we also know that being social can do wonders for mental and cognitive health, as well. Conversations with others help keep our minds adept at improvising, making connections, and seeing logical relationships. Those who are more social tend to have lower rates of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. They also have lower rates of depression, which tends to stem from feeling disconnected from the world around us. By simply engaging in social activity, we can keep our emotional and cognitive health in better shape for longer in life.

How to Be More Socially Active

With so many benefits of social activity, you might wonder how to get yourself out of the house and connecting with others. Staying home is the path of least resistance, particularly for those with mobility issues. If you find yourself isolated at home watching television or even avoiding the hassle of social events, you can take some concrete steps to integrate yourself once again. Volunteering is an excellent way to stay socially active and to help benefit others. You might want to offer your service to a hospital, nursing home, animal shelter, or school where they can use an extra set of hands. In each of these environments you can feel the benefits of helping others while also helping yourself stay connected to the broader world. Clubs and religious groups are other ways to have meaningful connections with others, whether they are around casual hobbies or the more deeply personal and spiritual sides of life. Taking a class can be an excellent way to promote your intellectual health by learning a new topic or skill while also engaging with others who have a shared interest. Finally, going to the gym or an athletic facility has the effect of connecting you with a community of like-minded individuals while also getting your body in motion.

Unfortunately, too many older adults let hearing loss get in the way of their social lives. When they find it difficult to hear and converse, some would prefer to stay home. Now we know that isolation of that kind has negative effects on physical, mental, and cognitive health.

South Shore Hearing Center

If you find that hearing loss is getting in the way of your ability or desire to socialize, don’t delay to get a hearing test and find out what possibilities are available for assistance. With help from our team at South Shore Hearing Center, you will be able to engage with the social world once again!