Humans are social beings that seek other humans from the moment they are born all the way to their senior years. However, it can be quite hard to maintain a rich social life once you get older—you’re retired and separated from your work colleagues, your physical condition stops you from participating in sports events and some of your old friends might not be with you anymore. All this can lead to depression – that’s why it so important to have a rich social life all through your life. Here are 6 tips for improving social integration and mental health as we grow older.
Say Hi to People
Being outgoing and friendly to people is a guaranteed road to happiness and a rich social circle. So, don’t hesitate to be open to new friendships and casual acquaintances. For instance, next time you go out to throw away the trash, take a look around the neighborhood. Do you see a friendly person you didn’t get a chance to talk to yet? Go say hi! And, next time you go to the farmer’s market, say hi to some regulars you’ve seen before. Some of them might be looking for new friends too and would love to grab a cup of coffee sometime.
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One of the easiest ways to maintain your social life and stay mentally healthy is to get moving! Regular exercise brings so many amazing benefits with it—it keeps you fit, improves sleep, builds stamina, reduces falls and relieves stress and depression. Additionally, if you take up an activity that requires teams or groups, you’ll get to meet new people! You can go as easy as taking a walk around the neighborhood to going to the gym, depending on your physical health. For instance, yoga is always a great choice because it has many levels of difficulty, involves groups and it keeps your body and mind active. Yoga also improves flexibility and balance, which are quite important for seniors.
Move to an assisted living facility
Even though it can be a very difficult decision to make, moving to an assisted living community is a great way to have a rich and active social life, especially for those seniors with complex care needs, dementia or young onset dementia. Living in aged care facilities can be an amazing experience that provides its users with freedom and independence to socialize, move and have fun AND it gives them professional assistance every time they require it! It’s a real micro-community!
Learn to use technology
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Computers sound like a dirty word to some seniors and they don’t want to have anything to do with them. However, once you overcome the initial shock and learn how to work the basics, you’ll see how many things you can do on that thing—the best being social networks! Joining Facebook is a great way to get in touch with old friends and distant family members and meet new people. Additionally, if dating is what you’re looking for, you must know that there are many senior dating services online!
Take a cooking class
Taking a cooking class is really a win-win situation: you’ll eat more healthy food AND meet new people. If you just recently realized you need to boost your cooking skills, find a local cooking class and you’ll meet many different people. Chat about food, tastes and your favorite meals. And, once the class is over, invite your new friends for dinner to show off what you’ve learned.
Play brain games
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Mental stimulation is a great way to stay in top shape, but doing crosswords alone is not the only way to boost brain activity. Join a chess club, go to bingo nights, organize game nights with friends (charades is a great way to activate both the body and the brain) or try reading to children. All of these will keep your brain sharp and provide you with social contact.
All of these social activities will provide you with more energy, reduce stress and depression, give you better appetite and better sleep and improve your general quality of life. So, go out there, get engaged and you’ll be much happier and even healthier!
CHLOE TAYLOR is an art historian and recreational ballet dancer. Her biggest dream is to travel the whole world and take stunning photographs of beautiful places. She also enjoys learning and writing about home design, since she is crazy about aesthetics. She is a regular contributor to Smooth Decorator