Socialization remains crucial for seniors today. They need to remain engaged and have meaningful relationships just as much as they need physical activity. However, many seniors struggle in this area for a variety of reasons. What can families do to improve a senior’s socialization today?

What is Socialization? 

First, a person must understand what socialization actually is. It is more than acquiring the habits, values, and norms of society, although this is what many people think of when they hear this word. It also means engaging with others in society. While seniors often have picked up the norms, values, and habits, they may struggle to get together with other people for a variety of reasons. Their health then declines. Fortunately, families can overcome this challenge, often by moving the senior to an assisted living community where they live with others in similar situations. 

The Importance of a Social Life

The National Institute on Aging reports researchers found a link between loneliness and various physical and mental health conditions. For instance, a person who is lonely is more at risk of cognitive decline, heart disease, and high blood pressure, along with many other health conditions. When a senior has a strong social life and engages regularly with others, they are better able to ward off these conditions. Andrew Sommerlad conducted a study and learned seniors who spent time with friends every day were 12 percent less likely to suffer from dementia when compared to those who only saw their friends once every few months. 

Socialization and the Global Pandemic

Seniors found they were restricted to their homes with no human contact during the global pandemic. Even as they worked to protect their physical health, their mental health declined. They couldn’t see their children or grandchildren without fear of contracting the virus and dying. Now that a vaccine is available and people are getting out again, seniors may find it hard to do so. They still have fears about their health and are struggling to get back into the swing of things. How can they do so? 

Make Socialization a Priority

Seniors should schedule time with friends and family. These visits need to be regular for the most benefit. For this reason, experts recommend seniors set up regular times to see people they love so everyone can plan accordingly and ensure they don’t miss a visit. When people put visits with family and friends on their schedule, these gatherings are more likely to happen.  

Meet New People

Individuals should make an effort to meet new people during their retirement years. There are several ways a senior can do this. They may go to a local event or venue and interact with others, or they could pick up a hobby and meet new people that way. People at these places enjoy similar activities, and these similar interests serve as a good foundation for a new friendship. Senior exercise classes, game nights, and outings planned by an assisted living community or a local area agency are great ways to connect with others. 

Get Out More

A person doesn’t need a planned activity to get out of the house. They can do so at any time. Encourage senior loved ones to get out regularly even if they do nothing more than take a walk around the block. A person never knows when they will run into somebody they know or strike up a conversation with somebody new who quickly becomes a close friend to them. 

Socialize While Eating

Food is a proven way to bring families and cultures together, and it can do the same for seniors. In fact, researchers at the University of Oxford found a link between life satisfaction and meals with others. When people eat together, they are more likely to feel satisfied and happy. Social eating allows them to bond over the meal while providing the diners with a sense of comfort. People often try new things when they eat and find common ground with others who share similar tastes. Seniors benefit greatly when they share a meal with others, so this should also be a priority during a person’s later years of life. 

If you have a loved one who is lacking in socialization, find ways to get them engaged. If doing so is difficult, consider moving them to an assisted living community. These communities cater to individuals of similar ages with common interests. Seniors who make this transition typically thrive in their new setting and wonder how they lived any other way. Everyone benefits from this type of living arrangement, so it is an option that should never be overlooked. 

About Heritage Woods:

Heritage Woods serves as the only full-service assisted living and independent living retirement community in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The community functions to make residents and their families feel they are home. Residents have access to indoor and outdoor activities to keep them active, engaged, and happy.