The New Year is usually a promising time of planning and anticipation. Many people, including older adults, welcome the New Year with resolve to improve or maintain their health. This can mean any number of activities and lifestyle changes depending on one’s outlook, experiences or health conditions. Older adults and their caregivers have a fresh unmarked calendar to begin to make small shifts in daily routines and changes in attitudes towards challenges, both mental and physical. While resolutions may seem clichéd, putting together a few thoughts for approaching the New Year can offer an opportunity to reorient oneself. Below are a few goals to consider.
Articles in Category: Social Interaction
As the holiday season approaches, plans to be with family and friends can make most people feel a sense of cheer and excitement. However, older adults may find themselves feeling isolated and depressed during this time of year. For many older adults, the holidays represent a time of sadness due to the loss of family members and loved ones or an incapacitating illness. The absence of social interaction can also contribute to vulnerable feelings of loneliness. Changes in community or surroundings can be contributing factors. Inclement weather, which tends to keep people indoors, can also be a contributing factor because it makes travel and socializing outside of the home difficult for older adults during the holidays.
It’s important for older patients with chronic conditions to stay physically active, and be aware of the benefits of social health and socialization. Social interaction can be just as effective as exercise at improving mood and quality of life. Staying socially active can help maintain good physical and emotional health as well as cognitive function. Older patients with chronic disease maintaining social interactions on a daily basis reduce their risk for cardiovascular problems, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, or depression.
Unfortunately, isolation among older adults continues to be a common concern. About 1 out of 3 older persons lives alone, half of whom are women. Social isolation can lead to being less physically active and feeling lonely. Maintaining healthy relationships that reinforce connection and social support is an important part of healthy aging. Continuous interaction with peers and family can sharpen the mind, and provides a better sense of belonging and connection.