Engagement for the Elderly: Why Social Interaction is Crucial

Feb 23, 2012

Happy and healthy relationships lead to happy and healthy living. But don’t just take our word for it! Studies have shown that cognitive function declines rapidly when communication with others is not regularly maintained. And unfortunately, it doesn’t stop there. Social isolation – and the loneliness, boredom and decline in self-worth that come along with it – is a common risk factor for suicide among the elderly.

So for the next week, we’re dedicating our blog posts to social well-being in older adults – so you can make sure your loved one maintains the relationships he or she needs to live a rich, happy and meaningful life.

But first, here are some fast and fascinating facts about the benefits of social interaction and the consequences of social isolation.

The health benefits of social interaction in older adults include:

  • Potentially reduced risk for cardiovascular problems, some cancers, osteoporosis and rheumatoid arthritis
  • Potentially reduced risk for Alzheimer's disease
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Reduced risk for mental health issues, such as depression and personality disorders

The risks of social isolation are:

  • Feeling lonely and depressed
  • Being less physically active
  • Having a greater risk of death
  • Having high blood pressure

Due to the natural decline in activity and obligations that comes with age, like getting up to go to work in the morning or driving the kids around, it can be difficult to maintain adequate social interaction. But it is far from impossible.

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