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3 Reasons Why Elderly Socialization is Critical

You can picture the long, barren hallways of a nursing home.

You see a group of wheelchair-bound seniors, their heads slumped down, never looking up at the scurrying nurses rushing by to handle one emergency after another.

This is not socialization of seniors. It is isolation.

As seniors age, they face increased risks of social isolation because of factors like the death of family and friends, loss of transportation and mobility impairment.

If one spouse becomes ill, the other spouse often becomes more homebound to care for his or her spouse, which leads to more social isolationism.

Older adults who describe themselves as lonely have a 59 percent greater risk of functional decline and a 45 percent greater risk of death, according to a study by the University of California San Francisco .

Here is how socialization can help your loved one’s health:

1. Socialization Can Improve Mood and Quality of Life

The need to maintain social interactions for good health is pretty clear.

One study published in the Annals of Family Medicine gathered nearly 200 seniors with depressive symptoms and provided social visits or physical activity for six straight months.

The results were undeniable.

“Social contact may be as effective as physical activity in improving mood and quality of life,” one researcher wrote. “Social participation and social support networks are paramount to long-term positive outcomes and psychological well-being for older people.”

2. Social Engagement May Slow Memory Loss

Seniors who are socially active may have slower rates of declining memory, according to a study published in the American Journal of Public Health.

That study examined the recall of a 10-word list. Social integration was measured by factors like marital status, volunteer activity and frequency of contact with others.

“The working hypothesis is that social engagement is what makes you mentally engaged,” says senior author Lisa F. Berkman.

3. Socialization May Support Brain Health

Social engagement may support brain health and possibly delay the onset of dementia, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

The American Academy of Neurology studied the relationship between dementia, stress, and socialization and found that “people who are socially active and not easily stressed may be less likely to develop dementia.”

There are plenty of ways to help your loved one's mind sharp. Click here for more advice on keeping your loved one’s mind sharp in: "7 Ways to Help Seniors Keep a Sharp Mind."

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