The importance of staying socially connected is vital to aging well. New technologies can help older adults keep in touch with family members and friends who have moved away, while also keeping them informed of the world around them.
It’s also very important for older adults to stay socially connected and to have a sense of belonging in their community. Good health and social connectedness are interrelated. Seniors who report a strong sense of community belonging also report good health. Higher levels of social integration based on marital status, volunteering, and neighbours are also associated with delayed memory loss as we age.
The best prescription to stay healthy both physically and mentally is to socialize and be active at the same time.
As we get older, our opportunities to socialize and our social networks often decrease due to our living arrangements, retirement, our ability to get around, our health concerns, and the good old Canadian winters. This can make older adults more vulnerable to becoming isolated and losing their sense of belonging in their community.
The best prescription to stay healthy both physically and mentally is to socialize and be active at the same time. Our brains thrive on the increased blood flow. Most experts agree that light to moderate physical activity is one of the best protectors against the loss of both bodily and brain function. In fact, the ideal recipe for enhanced brain function may be the combination of physical activity, intellectual stimulation, and social interaction, all at the same time. Keep in mind that a heart-healthy diet is also a brain-healthy diet and may help to preserve memory and thinking skills.
Patricia Clark is the National Executive Director of Active Aging Canada.