Nobody can make it through this world alone, not even the wise and battle-hardened generation of Baby Boomers.
Social relationships make up most of your life since the day you were born. It shaped your personality, helped you navigate life, and impacted your overall well-being.
There is no general manifesto on how to be a social butterfly; however, it is essential to find ways to stay socially engaged, especially in senior living in Clinton Township.
Why Staying Socially Active Is Important for Seniors
First, we will talk about motivation as this is the first step to making more friends. You must be motivated to do it or you will simply make excuses not to be. So to become motivated, here are the top four benefits of socialization to older adults like yourself!
1. Stay Mentally Sharp
Have you noticed your brain feeling exhausted and scattered during the mandated lockdown even though you’re just cooped up at home?
Well, that’s because your mind needs social interactions to stay sharp. Every conversation you make, regardless of the topic, keeps your brain stimulated by receiving and transmitting several pieces of information all at once.
This constant brain activity strengthens your cognitive abilities and promotes the development of new brain cells. Think of it as one of your fitness classes, but only this time, it is for your brain!
Retain the sharpness of your mind by connecting with people and creating meaningful friendships.
2. Protects the Brain From Disorders
Social connections keep your brain’s cognitive function in check, thus protecting it from neurodegenerative diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s.
According to research, seniors with healthy social relationships have a 26% less chance of developing dementia than those without social relations. Studies say that this is mainly due to the benefits that seniors reap from socialization, such as:
- Social and emotional support
- Less stress and more happy times
- Decreased chances of memory declination
- Enhanced intellectual capacity
3. Improves Your Emotional Health
Staying connected not only produces positive effects on your brain but also on your psychological and emotional well-being.
As seniors go through significant life changes like transitioning to a senior living facility or being diagnosed with an illness, they become more vulnerable to loneliness and isolation.
Without a healthy support system, this can develop into a more debilitating mental illness like depression. Connecting with your loved ones and building new relationships will help stave off these unwanted feelings and maintain a positive outlook in life.
4. Makes You Live Longer
With all these benefits, it is not surprising that staying socially engaged eventually leads to a long and happy life.
Spending quality time with others and creating lasting memories is both rewarding and satisfying, allowing you to live a life free from stress.
Moreover, having something to do and someone to do it with gives you a renewed sense of purpose. Finally, just knowing that you have all these people who love you and will be there for you until the end makes living worthwhile.
Now that we’ve talked about the benefits let’s dive into the “how.”
How to Make New Friends in Senior Living
Transitioning to a senior living community means socializing and getting to meet new fellow seniors. This may not be a big deal for a natural-born social butterfly. Still, moving can cause a lot of stress and anxiety for an introverted person.
Fortunately, plenty of senior communities anticipate this; that’s why they created a safe environment where seniors can have numerous opportunities to make friends. But if you or your loved one still worries, here are a few strategies you can do to establish solid and lasting social connections in the community!
1. Be Nice
It’s a whole lot easier to approach people with a friendly demeanor and positive vibe, right? Give off this kind of energy by making small gestures of friendliness, such as making eye contact and smiling or greeting residents as you pass them.
Now, this might not be an easy feat for a senior with social anxiety, but you can ease the jitters by doing it on a smaller crowd at first. The more you practice it, the easier it’ll become.
2. Get Involved in the Community
Parkdale Senior living in Clinton Township provides engaging activities to their residents to keep them active physically, mentally, and socially. Maximize this chance to make new friends by participating in activities that interest you.
Check the facility’s monthly calendar and make sure to join in on a fun activity every day. Furthermore, you can also ask the community if they have senior groups and clubs that focus on specific hobbies, such as a book club or an online coffee lovers group.
3. Bond Over Mealtime
A great way to get to know a person you just met is by inviting them to sit with you during mealtimes. Make lunch or snack times a social event by asking a senior you met in your art class to a meal or, better yet, joining their group.
Once you get over the initial friend-making process with the other residents, you can then proceed to get to know the staff or other family members in the community while enjoying a nutritious snack.
4. Form Friendships With New Residents
You are probably not the only new resident in town. Chances are, there’s plenty of other seniors who just moved in a day or week ago that also need a friendly face in the community.
So what you need to do is to make an effort to get to know your fellow new residents and be each other’s companions. Help each other adjust to the new life and make new friends together!
5. Get the Assistance of a Loved One
Not all seniors can muster up the courage to fight through their social anxiety—and that’s okay!
If this is the case, you can ask a loved one or a staff member in your senior living to accompany you during social events in your first few weeks. They can also act as a bridge for you to befriend other people.
Having a familiar companion can help ease your mental struggles and even give you the confidence to start a conversation with other people.