Socially active older adults have slower rates of health decline
As we get older, we are often confronted with a wide variety of age-related health problems that can affect our quality of life and significantly impacting on our overall well-being.
In addition to the physical ailments, there are a number of emotional and psychological concerns that can impact our health. This is especially true as we age.
Researchers are becoming increasingly aware of the tangible health benefits from social connections and of those people we have around us. In particular, one recent study found that socially active older adults have slower rates of health declines.
Published in the Journal of Health and Social Behaviour, the study sought to gain a better understanding of this phenomenon. Researchers analysed data from over 1,600 adults who were over the age of 60 years. Subjects were asked about their level of social engagement over the course of 12 months with friends and family members, including participation in social events such as meetings, clubs, and community gatherings.
They were then asked questions designed to measure their physical and mental abilities. What they found was that adults who ended up with high levels of social engagement had less cognitive and physical limitations than adults whose social engagement was low. The benefits were seen in socially active people whose social networks decreased only slightly, as well as socially inactive people whose social lives increased significantly. The lowest level of cognitive and physical abilities were seen in people who had low levels of social engagement that decreased even further over time.
The study supports previous research that established a link between our social interactions and our health. The current study describes how changes in our social lives can play a role, as well. This is an important consideration because as we age, changes often occur in our social standing, including the death of a spouse or acquaintance, or moving to a new location. The data is also important because people have some level of control over their social lives.
– Socially active older adults have slower rates of health declines. Journal of Health and Social Behavior. 1 December 2011. By Sharyn Alden.
– Trajectories of Social Engagement and Limitations in Late Life. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 52(4), 430-443. By Thomas, P.A. 2011.
Learn more on the health benefits of being social
Volume three “The Why’s of Goodness” provides a different perspective on the normal issues relating to your health, such as exercise, nutrition and relaxation. Everything we do in life has some form of influence to our subconscious, and these are great examples. Chapter 3.2 focuses on the importance of staying social, and how making new friends and keeping in touch with existing friends does wonders for you mental well-being and health. Read more on volume three.
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