Socializing ranks right up there with diet and excercise on the “aging ladder” of importance. It’s been proven that those age 55+ who enjoy an active social life can extend their lives by years. Lack of socializing and friendships can lead to depression and even alcoholism, heart disease and cancer.
There are an abundance of benefits for socializing other than life extension –stress reduction, a feeling of importance and high self esteem are just a few of the benefits. Keeping active also reduces the risk of mental diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Sometimes an individual must make the effort to become involved rather than waiting for someone to come to them. It can be especially difficult after being a part of a couple for many years and then being single again. Getting involved in the community or joining a group can mean the difference in being depressed or enjoying a healthy mix of friendships and outside activities.
Being around people who have the same interests especially help those age 55+ enjoy life even more. Laughing and creating new memories are the best medicine to keep from thinking and focusing on the negatives in life. Joining an activity that’s new or something challenging, is especially beneficial.
A new research study from Harvard University advocates that socializing for boomers and older has as much benefit as regular exercise. Feeling needed and helpful is extremely mind-lifting and can impact quite positively an individual’s life.
It’s not surprising that as we age, socializing with others becomes more important than ever. We need contact with others who either share our interests and opinions or even have interests and opinions that are entirely new to us.
Remember the movie, Cast Away, when actor, Tom Hanks played a man alone on a desert island. He becomes so lonely that he creates a buddy by drawing a face on a ball he found. In the end, he mourned the loss of the ball much as we would a friend or family member. Deprived of socializing, we feel isolated and alone. But, having friends and making those connections, can make all the difference in the world.
Laura Kay House, MA, is the founder and owner of Silver Connections, located in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Silver Connections promotes socializing opportunities for active, age 55+, single adults.