Social Wellness for Seniors
Social Wellness is one of the seven dimensions of wellness that contribute to health, happiness, and overall quality of life. Social wellness is the aspect of wellness focused on developing beneficial connections with those around you, be they family, friends, or the wider community.
Benefits of Social Wellness
Social support enhances quality of life and provides a buffer against adverse life events. When you give and receive social support on a regular basis, you ensure that you’ll have people to turn to in times of need or crisis. People who maintain their social network and support systems do better under stress.
Healthy relationships are a vital component of health.
Research shows that strong social networks:
- Help people live longer.
- Help people respond better to stress.
- Are associated with a healthier endocrine system and healthier cardiovascular functioning.
- Cause higher levels of immunoglobulin A (an antibody that helps keep away respiratory infections and cavities).
- Create a good mood and enhance self-esteem.
Loneliness and Social Isolation in Seniors
Did you know that socially isolated people are more susceptible to illness and have a death rate two to three times higher than those who are not socially isolated? According to the University of Minnesota, the health risks from being alone or isolated in one’s life are comparable to the risks associated with cigarette smoking, high blood pressure and obesity. Lonely people are 50% more likely to die prematurely.
Older adults are particularly vulnerable to loneliness and social isolation due to declining health and mobility, loss of significant loved ones, and a smaller social network. Loneliness is frequently difficult to spot, and seniors can be unaware that they are lonely or reluctant to disclose that they are.
Improving Social Wellness in Seniors
- Consider whether you or your loved one may be lonely or socially isolated based on their living situation and risk factors.
- Take a Social Wellness Assessment.
- Review resources that may be helpful for addressing the cause(s) of your or your loved one’s loneliness.
- Review the Social Wellness Checklist to get ideas on how to develop positive social habits that can help you build support systems and stay healthier.
Social Wellness and Senior Living
A senior living community can be beneficial for seniors and their families who are concerned about social isolation. Senior living residents enjoy regularly planned activities, interest groups, and social events. If you're interested in finding out if senior living might be right for your or your loved one, find your nearest community to speak to an advisor.
- Mindbody online, https://www.mindbodyonline.com/sites/default/files/public/education/learning-assets/7_Dimensions_of_Wellness-Infographic.pdf
- Evergreen Health, https://www.healthiestbest.com/benefits-of-social-wellness
- Washburn University, https://www.washburn.edu/student-life/recreation-wellness/employee-wellness/documents/EW-SO-Social-Wellness.pdf
- Suicide Prevention Resource Center, https://sprc.org/sites/default/files/Reducing%20Loneliness%20and%20Social%20Isolation%20Among%20Older%20Adults%20Final.pdf
- National Institutes of Health, https://www.nih.gov/sites/default/files/health-info/wellness-toolkits/social-wellness-checklist.pdf