Socialization Benefits for Seniors
Socializing is another vital aspect of senior wellness because it improves your overall quality of life. Being socially isolated is one of the leading causes of senior depression because loneliness can lead to despair. Socializing does the opposite: it makes you feel needed and appreciated and gives you a positive outlook on life.
Socialization also improves the nutritional intake of seniors, and socializing seniors tend to be more physically active because seniors who are isolated tend to skip more meals and have less motivation to do physical activities.
Having an active social life is also key to a healthy brain: a study by Berkeley University found socialization may have a direct relation to lowering the risk of Alzheimer's and dementia.
Seniors should make an effort to socialize regularly. While some type of physical activity such as a yoga class or group walk is ideal there are many other options available to fit your lifestyle:
- Going to a senior center for programs
- Joining a gym
- Visiting family or friends
- Volunteering at local events or organizations
- Joining a neighborhood center or church group
- Joining or starting a group that enjoys similar interests, such as walking, knitting, or golfing
It can be tough to socialize as you age, but it becomes easier if you live at a retirement community with plenty of new friends around. Not to mention, it's easier to get used to the community and start socializing with an ambassador on your side to help you get on your feet.
As you get older your tastes may change as well as your appetite. Senior nutritional needs and calorie intake changes too, but eating well is important to your overall wellness. The National Resource Center on Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Aging states one in four older Americans has poor nutritional habits, which can weaken your bones, muscles, and immune system and leave you vulnerable to disease. Fortunately, you can start eating these immune boosting foods to prevent illness from a weakened immune system. As you get older, your nutritional needs, appetite, and food habits can change in several ways. Here are some things that can affect your health:
If you're not doing as much physically as you used to you may be consuming more calories than your body can burn. This can lead to weight gain as well as muscle loss, which in turn lowers your energy level and continues the cycle.
Loss of appetite is common as you age as is loss of taste and smell. Smoking also diminishes appetite and if you're a smoking senior you already know the perils you face with the habit.
Medical conditions can restrict the types of foods you eat, and many prescription drugs have loss of appetite as a side effect. If you have a chronic condition such as hypertension or diabetes it's vital that you stick within the guidelines your doctor has outlined.
Your teeth and gums are often overlooked as a cause for poor diet. If you have cavities or gum disease you should have it treated promptly, and if your dentures don't fit comfortably your dentist can change the fit within a day or two.
If you live alone you're more likely to skip meals or snack instead of preparing a nutritious meal. Likewise, if you've recently lost a loved one or moved to a new home you may be depressed with little appetite.
You should strive to eat a wide variety of foods that are high in protein and fiber as well as vitamins and other nutrients. At the same time, limit your intake of foods that are high in saturated oils, trans fats, salt, and processed sugars such as fructose. If you have specific health conditions you should follow the diet your primary care provider gives you, and remember that the more you exercise the more nutrition you'll need.
To meet your nutritional needs, eat foods that are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. Limit foods that are high in processed sugars, saturated and trans fats, and salt. You may also have to adjust your diet to manage chronic health conditions.
Whether or not you should take vitamin supplements is something you should discuss with your primary care provider or a nutritionist. While many seniors take a multivitamin daily, you may also benefit from extra supplements of specific vitamins and minerals. Here are some common supplements for senior wellness:
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin C
- Coenzyme Q10
- Fish oil
The important thing to remember about vitamins and supplements is to make sure you need them. Some vitamins are toxic if you take too much and others are water soluble, meaning if you take more than you need your body just flushes the extra out. Some vitamins and mineral can be depleted by certain specific prescription drugs and others can react to specific prescriptions. Your doctor can do a blood work panel to see if you're low in certain vitamins and will tell you how much you need to take if you are.
Other Senior Wellness Tips:
- Make your home fall-proof. Remove loose rugs, keep the clutter off the floor, and use nightlights.
- Skip the sun. Use sunscreen and hat to lower your risk of skin cancer.
- Get regular checkups, including dental, vision, and hearing.
- Keep stress to a minimum.
- Stay up to date on health screenings such as immunizations.
- Declutter your home for less stress and mess.