Social Involvement for Healthy Aging

by | Oct 1, 2018 | Emotions, Health Issues | 0 comments

Often overlooked when we are looking at healthy aging is the social component to it. Being part of a group or community is very important: humans are social creatures. In several of my University of Arizona cultural anthropology classes, we learned people needed social interactions in order to survive. Many scientific studies (whether in anthropology, psychology or sociology) show that humans need physical and emotional support from their community during all stages of our lives; if not, they struggle living in today’s society.

The question becomes how do we engage in group activities to fulfill the social component to be healthy and happy as we age? A 2004 study led by Dan Buettner looked at the lives of people over 100 years old. The Chopra Center featured a newsletter series on this study a few months ago. In each of the articles, some type of social aspect was discussed, such as volunteering. Volunteering is not only a great way to stay active, but it also allows you to engage in your community (another factor in living a long, healthy life). Studies have shown that those who volunteer tend to lose weight, have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, and demonstrate improvements in mood. The best way to decide what to volunteer for is based on activities you enjoy. If you enjoy working with children, consider volunteering at a school or after school programs and if you enjoy animals, consider volunteering at an animal shelter or zoo.

Some other free or low cost opportunities for social interactions is joining a local Meet Up group or a book club at your local library, taking a class, and/or participating in community senior centers activities. If you live in a housing community, many have community centers with activities ranging from exercise to craft classes as well as tours to local attractions such as museums. Another opportunity to engage with people of all ages is at a church in which your social and spirit needs can be meet. A final valuable source of finding places to meet people is your friends. Pick up your phone; they will enjoy hearing from you and sharing information on their social groups. A healthy part of aging is being socially active and not being alone. Most of the study’s centenarians have a daily routine of participating in their community.