Loneliness and social isolation in older adults are quite common as the aging process progresses. Older adults suffer from this more because they are more likely to be living alone, suffering from chronic illnesses, hearing loss and are often dealing with the loss of family or friends.
Recent studies have found that social isolation increases a person’s risk of premature death and is associated with a 50% increased risk of dementia. Loneliness is associated with higher rates of depression, anxiety and suicide. Older adults with a fulfilling social life tend to have reduced stress, a longer lifespan, are more physically fit, have reduced depression and anxiety, as well as a greater self-esteem.
Socialization can also help to prevent or delay general cognitive decline including memory loss, Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Many seniors encounter obstacles to being socially active such as physical conditions, mobility problems and transportation. While some obstacles are harder to overcome than others, most are manageable with the proper interventions.
Making social interaction a priority is important for older adults. There are several different avenues one can follow to increase social interaction. Churches have many avenues for adults to get involved, and some even have groups and clubs dedicated to seniors with fun activities such as outings and games. Senior Centers are another great avenue for socialization offering games, trips, meals and much more. Engaging in mentally satisfying hobbies on a regular basis such as gardening, crafts, cooking, and reading can also improve outlook. Volunteering for organizations can provide another outlet for social interactions.
With Henry County being primarily a retirement community, there are endless opportunities for socialization. Contact your local churches to find groups you can join and be involved with. The Civic Center offers a Silver Sneakers Program that provides exercise classes for seniors and water aerobics that might be an easier form of exercise. The Paris Academy for the Arts offers various painting classes and other activities that provide an outlet. Henry County Medical Center has a volunteer auxiliary program where people can volunteer their time in various ways at the hospital.
Another valuable asset in Henry County is the Henry County Office on Aging-Conger Senior Center. The Office on Aging offers many great programs for seniors including meals, games, speakers and more. They also offer free transportation to and from the Center. They will be hosting a Halloween party on Thursday, October 27, 2022 from 9:30 a.m. until 1 p.m. There will be games, food and a Halloween costume contest. For more information call the Office on Aging at 731-642-2919.
You can also find out about activities and volunteering at HCMC at www.hcmc-tn.org.