When it comes to living a healthy life, many people immediately think about factors like diet and exercise. But another crucial part of both physical and mental health is maintaining relationships and getting plenty of social interaction.
“Healthy relationships are repeatedly and consistently associated with measurements of good health,” says Karen Rathbun, retirement counselor at Hillside Village Keene, a senior living community opening this spring.
Social interaction can be especially beneficial for seniors. Here are five of the many benefits.
1. Social interaction decreases the negative impacts of loneliness. Feeling lonely can take a huge toll on seniors’ emotional wellbeing by fostering feelings of isolation, sadness, and boredom. But there can be negative physical side effects, too.
“Often, people who are lonely frequently have elevated systolic blood pressure,” Rathbun says. So social interaction not only improves emotional health and happiness, it can improve physical factors like blood pressure, too.
2. Strong emotional bonds can lead to a more active lifestyle. Simply having lots of people to go visit and participate in activities with can help motivate seniors to get up and get moving. Whether it’s getting together to go swimming or even just walking around an art gallery, physical activity is incredibly beneficial for seniors’ health.
3. Being social can help stave off age-related health issues. “Clinical studies have shown that being active and social may be associated with lower levels of Interleukin-6,” Rathbun says, “which is an inflammatory factor implicated in age-related concerns like Alzheimer’s disease, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular disease, and some forms of cancer.”
4. Face-to-face socializing can help treat depression or dramatically reduce the risk. “Loneliness can also contribute to symptoms of depression, and loneliness plus depression has a combined negative effect on well-being in middle-aged and older adults,” Rathbun says.
Research shows that face-to-face connection is instrumental in reducing depression, especially among older adults. In fact, researchers found that limited face-to-face social contact nearly doubles someone’s risk of having depression. While connecting with people through phone, email, or social media can be a good way to keep in touch with loved ones who live far away, the researchers found that digital communication simply doesn't have the same power as in-person social interaction when it comes to staving off depression.
5. Social interaction can lead to new hobbies and experiences. Meeting people and talking with them about their interests can lead you to join them for their favorite activities or try new ones together. Living in a senior community like Hillside Village Keene means you have constant opportunities for new experiences, from attending concerts to trying yoga classes to tasting gourmet vegan food. The more you socialize with others, the more you can share new experiences together.
Hillside Village Keene, opening this spring, is a fresh, new kind of senior living community designed with you in mind. To see construction progress and sign up for email updates, visit them online at HillsideVillageKeene.org. For additional information, call (877) 829-5349.