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Every culture around the world places a high value on the ability to be social, and with good reason. Evidence shows that having an excellent social and cultural network provides both physical and emotional wellbeing.
Throughout the years, a variety of studies have demonstrated the association between social support and physical and psychological health qualities. On the flip side, other research has associated social isolation and loneliness to higher risks of high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, depression, cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s disease, and more.
Why it is harder to socialize as you get older
- Less motivation: For those already in a long-term relationship and with established friends, the desire to get out there and meet new people can be understandably diminished.
- Distance: Some older Americans may live too far away from friends and family.
- Mobility issues: Some older people are facing mobility issues, which make leaving the house difficult.
- Social anxiety due to age: Many worries that the ways they were when they were younger will not be recognized.
- Hearing loss: Many older people are dealing with a hearing loss. Every conversation is the chance to get something wrong, to avoid embarrassment or miscommunication.
The benefits of being social
Although it may be a hassle to stay socially engaged as you get older, the benefits are far-reaching. Here are a few of the benefits you stand to gain from maintaining an active social life.
Better physical health
People who stay socially active tend to have better outcomes on several health indicators. They enjoy lower levels of blood pressure and weight and also have lower rates of cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and some cancer types.
It also seems like social activities also make you more physically active. Even just leaving the house to attend an event requires you to move around, and some social events rely on physical movements, such as outdoor activities or sports.
A vibrant social life will bring a lot of mental benefits for older adults. It’s easy to get caught up in negative thoughts and emotions when you’re sitting at home alone and feel isolated and alone. Older adults who are socially isolated are at higher risk of developing depression or anxiety, but being social can prevent depression and improve the quality of their lives.
A Johns Hopkins study clearly showed how untreated hearing loss is related to cognitive decline. The research, which spanned more than a decade, concluded that even mild hearing loss could double the risk of dementia in an individual. People with severe hearing loss have five times the chance of getting dementia. The reason for the increased cognitive decline? Those with hearing loss tend to be more socially isolated, which deprives their brain of the mentally stimulating benefits of conversation.
How to stay socially active
Although you can no longer rely on the workplace or education to meet new people, there are still many ways you can stay connected with those around you.
- Join a club or group based on your interests
- Volunteer with a non-profit that aligns with your views
- Offer to babysit and spend more time with family
- Take a class in something new
- Join classes at your local gym
Hearing aids help you stay socially active.
Hearing aids are typically the best choice for the millions of Americans who have hearing loss to help correct chronic hearing loss and restore their quality of life.
They have improved immeasurably since even a decade ago. There are more channels, better noise reduction, advanced feedback blocking, and a more comfortable fit in your ear. All of these advances make tackling your unique hearing needs and tailoring to your specific hearing profile easier. Hearing aids do not restore your hearing but could significantly improve your hearing ability.
In almost all cases, hearing aids help you understand better: at home, when out when driving or riding for public transport, at family gatherings and other social events, at the workplace, and in many different circumstances. Hearing aids also help you hear much more what’s being said on tv or the radio, and you can enjoy music more than if you haven’t used hearing aids.
In surveys, users of hearing aids say that using professionally-fitted hearing aids gives a better social life, with better family and personal relationships. If you’re looking to improve your social experience and you have hearing loss, there is no better place to start than with an appointment with a hearing professional.