As a key pillar of the Envisage® Masterpiece program, social health is critical to overall well-being. The upcoming fall season – that ideal sweet spot when many have returned from extended summer vacations but have yet to get caught up in holiday preparations – is the perfect time to reconnect with familiar acquaintances and forge new friendships.
Our social networks are important to us throughout our lives, but they become even more crucial as we age. Older adults who are socially connected enjoy greater health and well-being, and they often live longer than those who are isolated.
In addition, the mental health of older adults who are part of social groups is vastly improved, as proven in a 2013 study based on the English Longitudinal Study of Aging. The data showed that participating in group activities protected against depression in healthy individuals, positively contributed to recovery for those suffering, and reduced the risk of recurrence for those with a history of depression. On the flip side, health issues that many older adults experience like mobility challenges or hearing loss can exacerbate loneliness; psychiatric research also indicates that loneliness is as unhealthy as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
The benefits of social contact are clear, but sometimes we can feel at a loss for how to reach out and make a connection. Below, Envisage offers five ways to improve your social connectedness:
Do some good. Volunteer your time to support a cause that will give you the space to meet new people while also contributing to a better world.
Make it a habit. Schedule a regular or recurring day when you can get together with close friends and family members.
Be a joiner. Increase your opportunities to meet people by signing up for groups, clubs and events. Instead of walking or working out on your own, join a group fitness class. Take advantage of what you already do or enjoy as a way to bring additional moments of connection into your life.
Practice random acts of friendliness. Actively seek small moments of connection by saying hello to people in line or at the grocery store. Ask the person making your coffee or the receptionist on the phone how they are – and actually pause to listen.
Get re-acquainted. Consider hosting a dinner party or game night to reach out to existing relationships that may have stalled.
Proactively finding ways to stay involved with social relationships and taking the initiative to create new connections can quickly combat many of the mental, emotional and physical health complications you may encounter while aging.
Envisage wants to enhance your social well-being, so we’re offering resources such as our Wellness Education for Long-Term Living (WELL) program and partnership with Masterpiece. To demonstrate how our WELL program works, we invite you to bring a guest to our next upcoming virtual or in-person social event. You can register yourself and a friend or family member here to attend.