July is Social Wellness Month and we’re taking the opportunity to examine how social wellness relates to the health and happiness of seniors. Happy family volunteer smiling at camera

Social wellness is the practice of actively nurturing and maintaining your relationships with the people closest to you. It’s one of eight dimensions of wellness that exist; the others being physical, emotional, spiritual, intellectual, environmental, occupational, and financial. Keeping somewhat of a balance between all these areas is key to a person’s wellbeing, but as our loved ones age, social wellness may become more difficult to cultivate.

Maintaining relationships with friends and family requires both communication and interactivity. Unfortunately, there are several common ways that seniors can begin to feel increasingly isolated as they age. Many seniors live alone, either by choice or due to the loss of a spouse or partner. This is certainly enough to cause feelings of loneliness, but the chances increase when you consider that some of those people may also be unable to leave their home, because they’re no longer driving, or possibly suffering from a chronic illness that limits their mobility.

This is all especially relevant at a time when we’re all still recovering from more than a year of COVID-19 quarantines and social distancing. Now more than ever, we should be ensuring the seniors in our lives are socially fulfilled.

Benefits of Socialization

Human beings are inherently social creatures; energized by being around people we know, love, and relate to. These relationships are incredibly beneficial to our overall health in ways you may not even realize. Socialization helps people prevent bouts of depression, lessen anxiety, boost their immune system, and even improve their heart health.

If seniors are suffering from a lack of socialization, you may begin to notice their behaviors are trending in the opposite of direction. Some common warning signs of poor social wellness include a loss of interest in their favorite activities, sudden changes in their health, refusing help with tasks, and avoiding the doctor.

Ensuring Social Wellness

In order to guarantee the seniors in your life are staying active, you will likely need to take an active role in their social life. Here are some things you can do to increase senior social wellness:

Get Them Vaccinated

Seniors are some of the most vulnerable members of the population when it comes to infection. Many COVID-19 restrictions have been recently lifted, but the virus isn’t completely gone. If you want to make sure your elderly loved one is safe wherever they go, getting them vaccinated is key. Health care provider Health Net has been using Facebook and other social channels to get the word out on the importance of vaccinations.

“As one of the state’s longest serving and most experienced Medi-Cal partners, we’ve delivered vaccines to some of California’s hardest and most diverse regions,” said Dr. Ramiro Zuniga, Medical Director and Vice President of Medi-Cal for Health Net. “The vaccines are effective at keeping you from getting COVID-19. After you become fully vaccinated, you can start doing some things you had stopped doing because of the pandemic, like visiting friends and family.  Most importantly, COVID-19 vaccines not only keep you protected but they also help you protect your loved ones.”

Maintain Regular Visits

Social wellness requires you to maintain true connections with the important people in your life. This means doing more than an occasional text, or weekly phone call. Our seniors deserve face-to-face, physical interaction, that will go a long way to making them feel connected. Of course this is abundantly true when it comes to those who have difficulty leaving their homes, but it also applies to any senior living separately from their family members. Whether you’re stopping by for a chat, taking them out for a drive, going for a walk, or sharing a meal together, you’re making a world of difference in their social wellness levels – and yours as well!

Find New Experiences

Studies have shown that proper social wellness also helps maintain a person’s cognitive function as they age. These two concepts have a direct relationship with each other, which is why it’s important for the seniors in your life to keep learning and experiencing new things. Sign them up for a class at a local community center, or help them look for volunteering opportunities. Social situations like these cause them to meet new people, try new things, and keep both their minds and social lives active.  

Keeping seniors healthy is about more than just medication and exercise. This July, celebrate Social Wellness Month by making sure your elderly loved ones are feeling loved, connected, and socially satisfied.

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