While there are pros and cons of being on social media, one pro would include the “social” aspect. In fact, as more and more seniors join to stay involved in the lives of their loved ones, platforms like Facebook and Twitter can fend off dementia and depression.
There are a number of ways to stay healthy as seniors enter their golden years, such as eating a healthy diet and exercising. But these habits also include social networking, both online and off.
The Benefits of Staying Social
It’s normal for changes to take place in your brain as you age that make it difficult to retain new information. With dementia patients, the disease can become strong enough to interfere with individual’s lives. While cognitive decline cannot be prevented, keeping your mind active, or engaging with your friends and family can provide a great defense against these illnesses.
According to a study from the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center in Chicago, seniors who are more socially engaged have a 70 percent lower rate of cognitive decline than those who are less social. Another study from the University of Alabama in Birmingham suggests that the use of the Internet was associated with a 30 percent reduced chance of seniors experiencing depression symptoms.
How to Stay Social as a Senior
There are a number of ways for seniors to stay actively engaged, both online and offline. Check them out here:
- Take advantage of your social network: Maintaining relationship with friends, family, neighbors, church members, and other important people in life are low-hanging fruit. Even if they don’t live nearby, they can keep the conversation going through Facebook, email, talking on the phone, or texting. Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project states that seniors age 74+ are the fastest-growing group among web-based social networks. Numerous assisted living facilities have also started offering basic technology classes to help seniors become more proficient online and improve their social networking skills.
- Join a club: Many senior centers have various clubs of which people can join, including book club, art club, or garden club. Any of these are amazing ways to meet new people and establish long-lasting relationships with those who have similar interests.
- Get a part-time job: While many seniors enjoy their free time, others find that too much time on their hands can be stressful. If you miss the routine of going to work, a part-time job can offer mind stimulation and a greater sense of contribution. Both the Work Search program and Encore.org offer help for older individuals to get back into the work force.
- Volunteer: Volunteering is a great way to give back to the community while fulfilling that sense of purpose. Volunteer opportunities like Senior Corps offer great ways to connect seniors and national organizations looking for volunteers. Studies have also shown that older adults who do volunteer have a lessened chance of death compared to those who do not.
- Play mind-stimulating games: Hobbies like chess, crossword puzzles, and knitting offer great ways to stimulate the minds of older individuals. Playing games with others is also a great way to stay connected to peers. As the saying goes “use it or lose it” can apply to more than one situation. So you can think of games as a great way to stimulate your brain.
- Offer help to the family: If there are grandchildren, nieces, or nephews that are still young, and grandparents want to spend more time with them, they can offer to babysit on a frequent basis. They can stay physically active while improving their sense of well-being when playing with kids.
- Learn a new skill: There are simply too many skills to learn out there that seniors couldn’t possibly take an interest in just one. Look up the local senior centers, community colleges, and even private businesses for different courses that can include things like dance classes. Dancing is highly recommended as it offers both physical and social activity, so you can benefit from both at the same time.
- Travel: While you certainly can, this doesn’t mean traveling outside of the country. Simply going around town to explore different places is a great way to learn something new and possibly meet new people. Travel can also get you walking, promoting physical activity which is another way to keep depression and dementia at bay. You might just find a walking partner if you happen to take the same path several times.
Overcome Social Barriers
While there are great ways for seniors to stay social, there are always barriers that keep some seniors at home and afraid to stay connected. Factors preventing some seniors from staying social can include cost, no transportation, or medical challenges that can prevent some seniors from going out in public. Depression can be another factor, as seniors may need an extra reason to stay social or simply a “push” to go out and do something.
Companionship through Caregivers
While social barriers always arise and often become excuses to stay home, there are always ways to overcome them. Having a family member attend a social event with a senior or simply working with a caregiver can help ease any fears of being social.
In fact, working with a caregiver offers great companionship, especially for homebound seniors. While preparing meals, cleaning, and providing medication reminders, caregivers offer a great social benefit for elderly individuals. Family caregivers may also have a lot of other responsibilities, like their full-time jobs and taking care of their own families, but caregivers from Assisting Hands Home Care can attend a number of social events with seniors.
Helping to fend off depression and slow cognitive decline, caregivers from Assisting Hands Home Care are always open to having a fun conversation, playing games, and attending fun events with seniors. If they need a ride to the senior center or library for a book club, the caregiver will take them there. If they would like some company watching a movie, a caregiver can be there too. Caregivers at Assisting Hands Home Care are always looking to build strong connections with seniors to keep them healthy and happy at home.
For companion care services in Richardson, Dallas, Fort Worth TX, and the surrounding areas of Dallas and Tarrant counties, call Assisting Hands Home Care at (214) 865-7870. Request a free in-home consultation.