Top 10 Benefits of Social Activity for Seniors

Life begins after 60, right?

Any socially active senior will agree with this statement. These are the individuals who are out and about, living life to the fullest, soaking up every moment and, most importantly, doing it in the company of friends — both new and old.

Social activity for seniors is incredibly important in maintaining an overall high quality of life. It helps to harness the most curious and beneficial “side effects” of healthy friendships, including increased longevity, greater mental acuity, emotional health, decreased risk of cognitive decline, stronger physical fitness and more rewarding lives.

Just to name a few.

Read on to find out about all ten benefits of social activity for seniors.

1) Maintaining Emotional Well-Being

What you used to derive from your family, you can now derive from your friends. Emotional sustenance and well-being are incredibly important to living a long and thriving life. Emotional well-being can help fend off physical ailments and expand the mind.

Those who are regularly involved in social events, like group activities for seniors that focus on a hobby or visits to a community center to connect with friends, are forming deep bonds outside of the home, beyond their own family. They feel loved, needed and present.

2) Purposeful Living

Speaking of feeling needed, the secret to living purposefully is to have the sense that one’s presence and one’s actions matter. Tomorrow, if a senior wasn’t present in his or her own life, would anyone care?

The answer is, yes! It’s not just your family — the friends and social connections you make through group activities for seniors can help you feel engaged in your own life, excited about your day and ready to take on its gifts and challenges with refreshed vigor.

3) Increasing Self-Confidence

We all need change but, somehow, we fight our hardest against the onset of change. A senior knows that change is inevitable. Having gone through so many phases in life, a senior can safely say that the only thing constant is change.

Remembering that and embarking on a new milestone in life — one that is not only age-related but has many social indicators as well — means once again embracing change. From mobility changes to the possibility of new surroundings for those who downsize or move to a new location, change can be huge at this point in life. And in the face of impending change, anyone may feel hesitant or shy.

One of the benefits of social events for seniors, or even group activities for seniors, is the opportunity to be in the presence of others, dipping your toes into new friendships and perhaps changing your routine without overwhelming yourself.

Being able to observe yourself trying something new and embracing change can give you a sense of boosted self-confidence and the awareness that you’ve already conquered a lifetime — now, it’s time for a new one.

4) Developing Close Relationships

Socially active seniors are happy, active seniors because they have had the opportunity to form close relationships. These are often with individuals they might never have come in contact with if they hadn’t branched out, tried something new or put themselves out there.

Sometimes, following through with our deepest desires — the ones we’ve been ignoring from middle-age, perhaps even from childhood — during our older adult years can help us come across those friendships and relationships that are far deeper and more meaningful than anything we’ve experienced before.

These powerful connections sometimes feel so fortuitous, we may describe them as “meant to be.” But what they are the result of is the willingness to be vulnerable and social with someone new.

5) Being a Part of Something Greater

Speaking of new meaning in our lives, seniors thrive when they have the chance to be part of something greater.

Perhaps you have spent your working adult life performing at a job that was “just okay” but nothing special. Perhaps you’re only now getting a chance to go after what you love because you don’t have to shoulder the financial burden of a family or have children to be responsible for anymore.

Suddenly, older adulthood becomes a time to reconnect with your true purpose and be a part of something greater. The first step to finding this is trying out a social activity that you’ve always longed to do but shied away from.

6) The Opportunity to Try New Things

When seniors embark on new social activities for the elderly or make friends with someone who has a passion for something different, they have the chance to try new things.

The novel and the new keep our brains refreshed and operating at a high level of mental and cognitive capacity. Building new skills, forming new mental connections and trying one’s hand at an unknown activity occupy an important part of the brain known as the nucleus accumbens.

This part usually lights up when we crave something — but it’s also stimulated by risk, uncertainty, and activities that demand focused attention, keeping the mental acuity of seniors sharp and well-functioning.

7) Coping with Mental Illness or Addiction

Compulsive and addictive behaviors can often be calmed or soothed by stable and predictable social activity. One of the best benefits is that these social activities can begin to minimize or mitigate the effects of mental illness or addiction.

Suddenly, the brain and mind are occupied by a new activity, and there is a new way to derive pleasure. This can help stabilize seniors’ moods and emotions, and rebuild their outlook on life.

8) Delaying the Onset of Dementia

In the United States alone, especially after the age of 60, seniors are at an ever-increasing risk of Alzheimers and dementia.

While there is no known cure for either (yet), researchers have found that meaningful friendships, enjoyable social activity for seniors and daily intellectual activity can certainly slow down and, in some cases, actually prevent the onset of these aging-related issues.

Both higher levels of social activity, as well as the quality of social groups, have been found to make a difference, decreasing the risk of cognitive decline due to aging.

9) Sharing Knowledge, Talent, and Skill Built Over the Years

Seniors have a lot of value to share with their community, particularly if they have a natural affinity for a particular activity or they’ve spent years, on the side, developing their mastery in a skill.

From being grand chess masters or exceptional pianists to being excellent with numbers or mastering the ability to build miniature models — there is no limit on the skills, talents, and knowledge that seniors may have cultivated over a lifetime of experience.

While some seniors will thrive with natural leadership abilities they’ve nurtured and built through years (perhaps, as a senior executive to a community project), others will work better in individualized, one-on-one settings, teaching and imparting their talent to the next generation.

The benefits of social activity for seniors allow them to leave a legacy behind that goes beyond their immediate family and extends to their community — and beyond.

10) Improved Physical Fitness and Quality of Life

As you get older, there are even more benefits to be gained from staying physically active. Luckily, the more social you are, the more prone to connecting with others you are. And this can profoundly affect both your fitness levels and your overall quality of life.

Socially-active seniors are likely also physically active seniors. Along with their newfound or old friends, seniors who are physically active can undertake walks, hikes and even dances along with their friends. Each group of seniors feels stronger together, more willing to take risks and try something new with their friends beside them.

Physical fitness, connected to thriving socially with friends, staves off ailments that can come from things like isolation, loneliness, depression and even impaired cognitive functioning. There may still come a point where you can’t do the things you could do when you were 30, or even 50, like running up the stairs, and that’s where practical aids can be used to make life safer and easier. But, you’d be surprised what’s possible for those who make fitness a regular part of their lives in the golden years.

The benefits of social activity for seniors far surpass the feeling you get when you realize you have a “full” social calendar. From an improved and optimistic outlook on life to a continued sense of worthiness and purposefulness, socially active seniors experience many benefits.