We all know regular socialization is important. Catching up with old friends, enjoying an activity with family, or trying a new hobby with like-minded people is a great way to boost your mood. But for seniors, it actually has some surprising benefits you may not have thought of before.
Read on to learn five ways socialization helps seniors.
- Reduced Isolation Improves Mental Health
One of the biggest ways that socialization helps seniors is obvious: it makes them feel less alone. Many aging adults, due to limited resources, are at risk of being isolated, a leading cause of depression among seniors. This has only gotten worse since the COVID-19 Pandemic began, with seniors being an at-risk group and many being scared to leave the house.
At each of Jewish HomeLife’s residential communities, there’s a full calendar of events and activities spanning all interests to ensure our residents don’t feel isolated. Berman Commons residents enjoy activities like outdoor tea parties in their finest tea hats, current event discussion groups, and fun penny auctions. The Jewish Tower residents attend exciting shows at the Strand Theater, participate in healthy cooking classes and eat out with friends. And residents at The Cohen Home enjoy yoga class, tend to their community garden, and enjoy a weekly lunch outing at a different neighborhood restaurant each week.
All these events are designed to engage residents physically, mentally, socially and spiritually with the mental health and wellbeing of our residents in mind.
- Help Foster a Feeling of Belonging
Social isolation, in addition to taking a toll on one’s mental health, can also create feelings of being lost and not having a place to call your own. This can quickly have a deteriorating effect on the mental wellbeing of seniors. It’s important for everyone to find a place where we feel we belong, whether it’s with family or with a community of like minded individuals.
At Jewish HomeLife, everybody belongs. While our culture is based around Jewish values, which are universal, we welcome everybody of all faiths. We believe in treating each individual with respect and dignity, strive to serve as an innovative and resourceful guide for aging adults and their families, and have a deep passion for serving others that comes naturally to us. Each resident is treated like family, and will go to sleep every night knowing they have a place where they belong.
- Build Self Confidence and Self Esteem
Studies have found that social relationships, social support, and social acceptance can help shape and improve an individual’s self esteem. With so many seniors relocating to be closer to their adult children (and grandchildren), creating a brand new social network can be daunting. Participating in social activities to meet new friends can lead to feeling included and valued, which is crucial for a healthy self esteem and confidence.
For many seniors, they don’t have anywhere to go where they are able to feel special or confident. This is mainly due to transportation issues, social isolation (particularly during the pandemic) and stereotypes and stigmas surrounding older people. The staff at Jewish HomeLife strive to create opportunities for people of all backgrounds and interests to learn new skills, interact with new people, and engage in social activities together. These activities encourage healthy social interactions and help boost and maintain self esteem among residents.
- Improved Physical Health
It’s no surprise that exercise has nothing but benefits for the human body, especially for aging adults. Exercise releases endorphins to boost your mood, can help you sleep better, boost your confidence, and can even help improve brain health. Even chair yoga or a daily walk can help improve symptoms related chronic health conditions such as arthritis.
Jewish HomeLife recognizes the importance of exercise for aging adults. Our residential communities offer group exercise for seniors of all ability levels. The Jewish Tower and Zaban Tower, for example, hold an exercise class every Wednesday morning run by a dedicated volunteer. These events offer the opportunity for seniors to have fun while staying fit and social at the same time. The Cohen Home hosts events such as fashion shows and awareness walks where participants get exercise and confidence by strutting their stuff on the catwalk or doing their part to raise awareness for important causes.
The MJCCA, one of the AgeWell Atlanta Partners along with Jewish HomeLife and others, has several programs that encourage active lifestyles among seniors. Some of the activities include pickleball, a low-impact and fun sport, chair yoga, tai chi, and water aerobics.
- Enhanced Cognitive Function
When seniors engage in positive social interactions on a consistent basis, it helps keep them engaged physically and mentally, which can help boost their cognitive health. And improvements in cognitive abilities can help prevent cognitive decline, including memory loss, Alzheimer’s disease, and dementia.
Some senior living communities even offer social activities based around improving or maintaining cognitive function. One example is Berman Commons Assisted Living Facility and Memory Care, which is conveniently located in Dunwoody near Sandy Springs and Buckhead in Metro Atlanta. Berman Commons uses the I’m Still Here® approach to memory loss, a proven philosophy that involves research-proven engagement techniques and a personalized approach to memory care. The I’m Still Here® approach has proven that when individuals are engaged in activities that are meaningful and interesting to them, behaviors like agitation, anxiety, aggression and apathy (the four “As” of Alzheimer’s) are greatly reduced.
Another proven technique for memory loss is the Music & Memory program at JF&CS, another AgeWell Atlanta partner and Jewish HomeLife affiliate. In Music & Memory, participants listen to a custom playlist of music from some of the happiest times in their lives. The playlist is put together by a volunteer after meeting with the family and loved one of the participant. The joy of listening to familiar songs has been shown to reduce the effects of Sundown Syndrome in patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia, and has even inspired previously non-responsive patients to jump out of bed and dance.
Jewish HomeLife offers Care For a New Age. To learn more about the communities and services in the Jewish HomeLife network, please feel free to browse the rest of our website, or contact us today.