Why Socialization Is So Important for Older Adults

Retirement is a time to thrive, not just survive, and staying socially connected is essential to success. For many seniors, however, maintaining social circles can become more and more difficult as spouses and partners pass away, friends move, and mobility issues slow them down. But keeping socialization front and center in the lives of seniors can make a big difference for those seeking to live a long, healthy and happy life.

The link between physical health and socialization for seniors

Wanting to spend time with others is a natural part of being human, but it is also essential to good physical health, especially in retirement. According to the cdc.gov article, “Loneliness and Social Isolation Linked to Serious Health Conditions,” a 2020 report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine found that “one-fourth of adults aged 65 and older are considered to be socially isolated” and that “many adults aged 50 and older are socially isolated or lonely in ways that put their health at risk.”

What are the physical health risks associated with a lack of socialization for seniors? According to the CDC, the risks include:

  • A 29% increased risk of heart disease
  • A 32% increased risk of stroke
  • An almost 4 times increased risk of death among heart failure patients
  • An increased risk of premature death from all causes (on par with the risks of smoking, obesity and physical inactivity)

On the flip side, socialization has substantial physical health benefits for seniors to consider. The medicalnewstoday.com article, “What are the health benefits of being social?” notes that one study in the Netherlands found a decreased risk of type 2 diabetes among people who are socially active, while those who were socially inactive had a 60% increased risk of developing prediabetes.

The article also reported that another study found participants in a 12-week group fitness program experienced lower levels of stress and better well-being compared to those who exercised alone or with just one partner, and there are other important physical health benefits of group exercise to keep in mind. Working out with others can also increase motivation and accountability and help create reasonable and achievable expectations regarding fitness goals.

Download our “Senior Living Options” guide.

The connection between mental health and socialization for seniors

Not surprisingly, socialization for seniors also has many mental health benefits. One study described in the psychologytoday.com article, “The Brain Benefits of Social Connection,” found that regularly engaging with others socially may help protect against cognitive decline in older adults, and lower risks of dementia and depression. Conversely, according to the verywellmind.com article, “The Impact of Social Isolation on Mental Health,” people who are socially isolated are more prone to depression as well as drug and alcohol abuse.

Also notable is that socialization can help improve feelings of depression. The psychcentral.com article, “How Social Support Can Help with Depression,” explains that even for those already experiencing depression, introducing social support through family, friends, clergy, therapists, and support groups (including online groups) can have positive results.

The social benefits of senior living communities

Senior living communities offer older adults the perfect combination of social opportunity and privacy for enjoying retirement to the fullest.

Having friends and peers close by in a community that emphasizes healthy living, and an active and social lifestyle can lift a senior out of an isolating environment at home and give them plenty of ways to make new friends, spend more quality time with family and simply enjoy life again.

At Thrive Senior Living we understand and embrace all the benefits of socialization for seniors and go the extra mile to make sure our residents have plenty of opportunities to socialize while doing things they love to do. For example, we encourage our residents to join interest groups and clubs, get outdoors with peers for concerts and nature walks, volunteer at hospitals and other organizations throughout the greater community, and other possibilities described in our blog, “We’re Better Together.”

Even those who live in assisted living or memory care will find that socialization is a priority at Thrive, where programs, activities and events are designed to provide something for everyone to enjoy regardless of cognitive or physical limitations. For a look at what to expect from luxury senior living, check out our blog, “What’s Important for You in a Senior Living Community.”

When considering a move to senior living, download our “Senior Living Options” guide to learn more, then contact us to schedule a tour.

Senior Living Options Guide