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Aging Well: The bonds that tie us are vital to senior quality of life

Socialization and having a connection to others is a key factor in maintaining a good quality of life, and even living longer.

A recent study found that isolation and aloneness for seniors can be as detrimental to health as certain physical ailments, and could contribute to a premature death.

Those findings, which were presented at the Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association, found that aloneness and social isolation are a major health hazard. And it’s an issue that’s especially common among seniors.

The AARP found that more than 40 million adults older than age 45 are suffering from chronic loneliness. That may seem odd, given that in many ways, we’re more connected to others by technology than ever before.

But many older adults either don’t have access to a computer or simply don’t use the internet. For those who do, other research has found that social media and other online interaction can actually make us feel more lonely and isolated.

What’s the bottom line? In addition to living a healthy lifestyle and managing health conditions, it’s important for seniors to remain socially active. Relationships with friends and family members play a big role in promoting quality of life.

Our friends and family provide a support network for us throughout life. But as we get older, we often lose those social interactions, for a variety of reasons.

Some friends may move away. Some may pass away. It can become more difficult to travel to an event or even a friend’s home. Health may keep us tied closer to home.

But maintaining relationships plays a key role in quality of life for seniors. For one, remaining socially active has been tied with health benefits. And remaining in good health is important for quality of life.

In one example, a study by the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center found that those who maintain relationships and stay active are much less likely to develop cognitive decline.

Interacting with others regularly also makes seniors less likely to develop poor habits, such as smoking and not exercising regularly.

But beyond these benefits, being around others usually lessens feelings of loneliness, which plays a large role in our health.

While you may know the importance of socializing and relationships as we age, it can be difficult to include them in daily life. But there are many different ways to increase a person’s interaction with others in a beneficial way.

Some ideas are quite simple. Seniors may find joy and fulfillment by:

Taking walks through the neighborhood, if able.

Spending time with grandchildren or great-grandchildren.

Taking a free class at the local senior center, church or library.

Singing in the choir or playing music at church.

Having family members or friends over for tea or a meal.

Participating in regular game nights or book clubs.

Socialization and relationships matter when it comes to quality of life for seniors. Even the smallest amount of socialization can keep seniors healthy and happy.

Faith Sobel is the marketing coordinator for Senior LIFE, Exeter Township, at www.seniorlifepa.com.

Article source: http://www.readingeagle.com/sections/article/aging-well-the-bonds-that-tie-us-are-vitalto-senior-quality-of-life

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