The Importance of Social Connection for Seniors

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Gallery at Broomfield, The

For more information about the author, click to view their website: Gallery at Broomfield

Posted on

Sep 27, 2023

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Colorado - Boulder County

The importance of social connection cannot be ignored, especially for seniors. For example, senior citizens are at higher risk of developing or worsening mental and physical illnesses, including depression, anxiety, dementia, cognitive decline, memory loss, and more. In fact, some studies suggest that at least one in four older adults experiences some mental disorder. The number of seniors with mental disorders is also expected to double by 2030. Would it surprise you to learn that social connection can prevent and reduce symptoms of all of these problems? In this article, you’ll learn about the importance of social connection for seniors, and how to make and keep these connections. 

Social Connection is Vitally Important for Seniors 

It’s true! In fact, here are just a few examples of the benefits of social connection for seniors.

  • Decreased symptoms of depression
  • Improved sleep
  • Improved social cognitive skills
  • Reduced inflammation
  • Improved physical fitness 
  • Decreased risk for certain cancers
  • Improved cardiovascular help 
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Reduced hypertension 

These benefits are linked to the overall increased happiness and well-being people experience when they don’t feel isolated and lonely. Therefore, having a strong support network eases anxiety and depression. It’s much easier to stay physically active, sleep well, and take care of your health when mental illness isn’t weighing you down. However, knowing social connection is important and actually having these connections are two entirely different things.  

How to Make and Keep Social Connections as a Senior

As a senior, making and keeping social connections can be difficult. Physical limitations, health issues, retirement, loss of loved ones, and changing social circles can make finding new friends or seeing old ones especially challenging for senior citizens. Here are a few ways you can overcome these challenges and make new connections or maintain old ones.

  • Participate in local or neighborhood activities. For example, sign up for that cooking class or gardening class at your local library. Attend a neighborhood BBQ. Go to that church party. When you see opportunities to meet new people or connect with those around you, make sure to take them.
  • Volunteer. Volunteer opportunities can give you a chance to get out of the house, serve others, and meet like-minded people who share your willingness to give back. Check out this post for the best volunteer opportunities for seniors.
  • Stay in touch. Make an effort to stay in touch. Call the people you love and tell them you love them. You could send emails or letters or get tech-savvy and video chat or text them. For families spread out over a larger geographic area, a weekly group video chat date is a great way to keep in touch. Apps like Zoom or Google Meet make this fairly easy for everyone.
  • Host social gatherings. Bring the party to you! Invite your friends and family to a backyard barbecue or a family dinner. Having the people, you care about in your home is a great way to prevent loneliness and help you feel connected. This can be a great option for seniors who are facing medical challenges that make leaving the house difficult. Order a few pizzas for delivery (or show off your healthy cooking skills) and let your loved ones come to you!

More Social Connection Ideas for Seniors

  • Further your education. Did you know that many universities offer free or reduced-rate classes for seniors? Check with your local college and see what they can offer you. Continued learning has many benefits, and maybe you’ll even meet a fellow senior who shares your interests.
  • Check online. While online connections aren’t a substitute for in-person interactions, they’re a good way to find people to meet up with in real life. Online support groups or local interest groups can be a great way to socialize without leaving the house. Or, if you’re single, try senior dating apps. Just make sure to stay safe online–never give out your address, credit card number, or other personal information to someone you don’t know in person. And make sure that if you’re meeting someone for the first time, you do so in a public place.
  • Try a senior living community. Senior living is by far the easiest way to increase social connections for seniors. You’re surrounded by an entire community of people in the same stage of life as you, often facing similar challenges and problems. Communities offer group dining rooms and many activities where you can get to know your neighbors. If you’re feeling lonely, definitely consider senior living. 

The Dangers of Loneliness 

Recent data from the CDC shows that people who feel socially isolated and lonely are at greater risk of premature death from all causes. They’re also 50% more likely to get dementia, 29% more likely to have heart disease and 32% more likely to have a stroke. Loneliness among heart failure patients was associated with a nearly 4 times increased risk of death, significantly increased risk of hospitalization, and significantly increased risk of emergency department visits. (2) As you can see, loneliness and social isolation aren’t just inconveniences. Being lonely is literally dangerous for your physical and mental health and well-being.  

If you’re feeling lonely, take action to remedy this right away. Go ahead and try the tips listed above. You could also talk to your doctor about counseling, which may help make it easier for you to improve family relationships and make new friends.  

In conclusion, there’s no way to understate the importance of social connection for seniors. If you want to improve your physical health, mental health, and life in general, improve your social connections. Considering senior living? Tour a community near you today. Or call The Gallery at Broomfield at 303-656-3738.

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What Is Life Enrichment?

For many people, the idea of a senior living community includes images of older adults sitting alone in their rooms or napping in a common area. These negative perceptions do not actually reflect the active lifestyle lived by most American seniors. According to a study by the University of Michigan, a growing number of older adults are embracing healthy living, staying physically active and remaining socially engaged.  When a senior and their family begin to consider transitioning to a senior living community, lifestyle, engagement and health are always top considerations. Simply because an older adult may need more daily assistance or support with the activities of daily living, it doesnt mean they will want to stop practicing their hobbies or keeping up with life enrichment activities they love. Many senior living communities help accommodate these pursuits through their life enrichment programs.So, how important is life enrichment for seniors? And what are the benefits of life enrichment programs? What Does Life Enrichment Mean?What does life enrichment mean? Life enrichment programs for seniors include plans and activities that support a seniors social, physical, emotional and cognitive well-being. In addition to encouraging creativity and personal growth, life enrichment programs are designed to keep seniors active, healthy and engaged in their community.While senior enrichment programs may seem like perks, they play a much more important role in senior living communities than just fun and games! Activities that suit a seniors active lifestyle and programs that engage their minds add greatly to the quality of life for older adults. Here are a few ways life enrichment programs benefit seniors:Keeping seniors activeAn active lifestyle is a vital part of healthy aging. Remaining active into the golden years of life can help seniors to maintain healthy bones, muscles and joints, prolong independence and help to manage chronic medical conditions. Life enrichment programs that include physical activity can keep seniors moving. At Anthology of King of Prussia, seniors enjoy access to an indoor pool, as well as exercise, fitness and wellness programs.Creating social connectionsStrong personal relationships give people comfort and support at any age. Feeling connected to others can help seniors reduce stress and anxiety, while also lowering the risk of depression. For seniors who live alone or who have limited mobility, it can be challenging to stay socially active. Life enrichment programs in senior living communities often have a social focus, which helps seniors to make connections. At Anthology of Farmington Hills, residents enjoy daily social, cultural and recreational activities, as well as thoughtfully designed common areas, including a sunroom.Supporting cognitive healthMany senior enrichment programs include activities that promote cognitive health. Keeping the mind active supports memory and reasoning abilities, while giving seniors an overall sense of achievement. By participating in life enrichment programs, seniors can preserve and sometimes improve their brain health. At Anthology of Plano, residents have a community activity center with game rooms, a library and reading rooms to enjoy books, games and puzzles, all of which promote brain health. Life Enrichment Activities for SeniorsDaily engagement through life enrichment activities for seniors helps to encourage bonds with loved ones, build new relationships and explore new hobbies. Anthology Senior Living designed our Elements of Life Enrichment program around our core philosophy and using our six dimensions of wellness. Anthologys six dimensions of wellness include:Physical HealthSocial HealthEmotional HealthIntellectual HealthSpiritual HealthEnvironmental HealthThis unique life enrichment program truly nurtures the full mind, body and spirit. From participating in a group fitness class to joining other residents for a card game or an off-site adventure, the Elements program keeps residents energized and encourages them to make the most of each and every day. Examples of life enrichment activities that are part of the Elements program include:A calendar of daily social, cultural and recreational senior living activities for residents to choose from, such as art classes, happy hours, fitness classes, yoga, dance and walking clubsFitness, exercise and wellness programs designed to engage residentsThoughtfully designed common areas and landscaped outdoor spaces for social gatheringsThe Directors of the Elements Life Enrichment program at Anthology provide opportunities and activities to keep residents engaged, while also improving the balance and functional movement for a better life within the Anthology communities. Our diverse monthly calendars are full of senior living activities that reflect the spirit and aspirations of Anthology residents. At Anthology Senior Living, we also understand that effectively improving seniors everyday experiences means not just customizing their activities to meet their specific preferences and tastes, but also ensuring that their daily routine has some variety.  About Anthology Senior LivingAll of Anthology Senior Livings assisted living communities provide warm, dynamic care in a supportive, engaging environment. The team at Anthology manages everything to allow our assisted living residents to enjoy each day to its fullest. At Anthology of Boynton Beach, and all our communities, we provide housekeeping services, linen services, laundry and groundskeeping so residents can focus on fun and enjoyment. Theres so much to do at Anthology Senior Living that you will wish you had moved in sooner! Every day, various organized activities are available to participate in. From art classes to happy hours to brain games and fitness classes, theres something to indulge every taste. At Anthology Senior Living, your time is always your own. Choose as many or as few activities as you desire. View our calendars and see the wide variety that we have to offer.Interested in finding an Anthology Senior Living community near you? Visit our community finder to learn about all our locations. Or contact us today to set up a tour!

The Power of Senior Friendships

In the tapestry of life, social connections are the vibrant threads that weave together our experiences, joys and challenges. For seniors, these social connections hold even greater significance, serving as a cornerstone for their overall well-being, contributing to a happier, healthier and more fulfilling life. In this blog, we explore the many benefits of senior friendship and shed light on how these connections truly enrich retirement.The Human Need for ConnectionFrom the moment were born, humans thrive on connection. As we age, this need remains steadfast, if not more crucial than ever. Seniors with strong social networks feel connected, valued and supported, benefiting their overall well-being and health.The companionship of friends serves as a powerful buffer against the challenges that can accompany aging. Maintaining close friendships has even been linked to decreased levels of loneliness and depression in seniors. The simple act of sharing stories, laughter and moments of vulnerability creates an emotional support system that helps seniors navigate lifes ups and downs with resilience and positivity.How Senior Living Fosters FriendshipsAt Anthology Senior Living, daily engagement encourages residents to bond with loved ones, build new friendships and explore new passions. Designed around our core philosophy and using our six dimensions of wellness, the Elements Life Enrichment program truly nurtures full mind, body and spirit. Whether participating in a group fitness class, joining other residents for an off-site excursion or playing a poker game, new experiences keep residents energized and encourage them to make the most of every day.Seniors at Anthology of Burlington Creek can enjoy a variety of events and activities. These aim to spark curiosity, promote engagement and bring happiness to their daily lives, keeping seniors connected.How Social Connections Keep Seniors HealthyScientific research underscores the life-changing impact of social interactions on senior health. Spending time with friends, family and peers links to a range of benefits, including:Mental and emotional well-being: Regular social engagement can help combat feelings of depression and loneliness in seniors, leading to a more positive outlook on life.Cognitive health: Engaging in stimulating conversations, participating in group activities and sharing experiences can help maintain cognitive function and even reduce the risk of cognitive decline. These interactions stimulate cognitive functions, keeping the brain active and sharp. Friendships help us grow mentally and learn new things by discussing current events, sharing memories and exploring new interests. Staying social can lower risk of depression, improve brain health and possibly slow down the progression of dementia, according to the Alzheimers Association.Physical health: Believe it or not, friendships can have a tangible impact on seniors physical health. Engaging in social activities for seniors and spending quality time with friends can reduce stress levels and promote a healthier immune system. Friends motivate each other to be active, do fun things and take care of themselves, which improves their well-being.Longevity: Studies suggest that seniors with active social lives tend to live longer, enjoying a higher quality of life as they age.Embracing Technology for ConnectionIn todays digital age, technology has opened new avenues for seniors to stay connected, even when physical distances separate them. Video calls, social media platforms and online interest groups offer opportunities to forge connections beyond the walls of their immediate surroundings, fostering a sense of unity and shared experiences.How Do I Meet New Friends After Retirement?As we grow older, finding friends and staying socially active doesnt happen on its own. It demands dedication, encouragement and persistent effort to cultivate genuine bonds.Here are several ways seniors can meet new people and reap the health advantages of social engagement:Try volunteering within your local community.Seek the support of community resources, like senior centers and senior living communities.Enroll in classes or workshops, whether for learning new skills or for leisure. This introduces you to people with shared interests, and the setting encourages regular interactions, making it easier to form friendships.Attend local events, fairs, markets and festivals. These gatherings often attract people from the community, providing an opportunity to strike up conversations and make new social connections.Participate in fitness classes, yoga sessions, walking groups or other exercise programs designed for seniors. Where Is the Best Place for Seniors to Make Friends?One of the best places for seniors to establish and nurture meaningful friendships is within a senior living community. These communities are designed to create an environment that promotes companionship and shared experiences, making them the perfect place for seniors to establish new connections.At Anthology, we understand the power of social connections. We create a lively atmosphere where people connect, laugh and form friendships through enjoyable activities like arts and crafts and communal dining. We design our events to spark conversations, forge bonds and provide the nurturing connections that contribute to healthier, happier lives.Whether its a beautiful day out in the park with friends, a festive BBQ or a vibrant dance class, residents at Anthology of Olathe are greeted with connection every day. Anthology of Boynton Beach celebrates seniors with social activities like happy hours and chef demos that foster connections.Creating a Community of ConnectionWe cannot overstate the importance of social connections and how they keep seniors healthy. As we get older, the relationships we build with loved ones and peers are crucial for our overall health and happiness. For older adults looking for these social connections, senior living communities can offer a way to make new friendships and form a consistent support group.

Horticultural Therapy Garden Connects Someren Glen Residents with Nature Year-Round

Though the temperatures along the Colorado Front Range have dropped and the sun sets well before 5pm, the growing season has only just begun at The Suites at Someren Glen skilled nursing and memory support neighborhood. Our flourishing community was recently gifted a horticultural therapy garden from Eldergrow through the legacy of former Christian Living Communities residents and supporters, Gil and Jeanette Deters.Enriching Community Life through Horticultural TherapyOur new garden from Eldergrows Therapeutic Horticulture Program brings nature indoors. It is thoughtfully designed for older adults living in skilled nursing and memory care communities like Someren Glen. The accessible, sustainable, and mobile garden includes a variety of eye-catching and beautifully fragrant plants, providing the kind of sensory experience that can only come from time spent among nature.With the support and expertise of Eldergrow educators, Someren Glen residents planted their garden in September and have since enjoyed the connection, calm, and happiness that comes with nurturing a garden. Teaming with Eldergrow increases residents ability to interact with nature throughout the year, providing a hands-on experience to care for and learn from the Eldergrow garden, shares Steve DeBelle, Executive Director at Someren Glen.Every two weeks, Eldergrow educators visit our community to teach classes and support residents as they connect with the plants multi-sensory characteristics, learn garden care, and maintain the health and growth of the garden. DeBelle is already seeing the impacts of the garden, sharing, The residents love it. They are very engaged in caring for the garden. It was a wonderful addition to our community.For one of the gardens caretakers, Someren Glen resident Shirl, the new garden brought back dear memories of her grandmother, who grew and tended roses. The plants give back so much to us, she expressed. I feel so proud of this garden!The Benefits of Horticultural Therapy for Older AdultsIn addition to the joy and delight already being felt from tending the Eldergrow garden, its potential long-term benefits for Someren Glens residents are significant. Studies indicate that therapeutic horticulture can reduce depression, improve balance, and lower risk factors for dementia. According to the Mather Institute, an organization focused on aging services research, a review of 20 years of research studying the impacts of indoor nature interventions in residential care environments showed that the positive outcomes of active interventions such as those provided through Eldergrows Therapeutic Horticulture Program included improved psychological well-being, life satisfaction, social well-being, engagement, and quality of life.How CLC Supporters Make The Fine Art of Living Possible at Someren GlenAs a neighborhood of Christian Living Communities, a nonprofit organization with a mission of enriching the lives of older adults, Someren Glen is a creation and expression of the exceptional residents who call our community home and those who have come before them, such as Gil and Jeanette Deters. The CLC community held a great significance to the Deters, who planned for their love and caring to extend to this community beyond their lifetimes.This is the 16th year that the Deters gift has enriched the lives of residents at The Suites at Someren Glen. Their legacy lives on in the hearts of the many older adults and families who have been impacted by their generosity. Someren Glen can strive for and sustain our vision, mission, and values because of the investment of donor support. Learn more about supporting Someren Glen and other CLC communities at www.christianlivingcommunities.org/support-our-mission.Contact us today to learn more about our long-term care services, purpose-filled life enrichment programming, and award-winning skilled nursing neighborhood at The Suites at Someren Glen.

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