December 9, 2022/Daily Health Stories

Why Socialization is Important for Older Adults

A physician explains why it's important for older adults to socialize with family and friends, no matter the time of year.

Why Socialization is Important for Older Adults

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CLEVELAND – With the holidays quickly approaching and the colder weather here to stay, it’s important to make sure the older adults in your life are still socializing.

“One of the things we learned during the pandemic is that social isolation is a really big problem and it’s probably one of the most recognized contributors to mental health issues now in the United States,” said Ronan Factora, MD, geriatrician for Cleveland Clinic. “For older individuals, it’s a bigger deal.”

Dr. Factora said loneliness can be a precursor for depression, so getting the chance to socialize with others can help improve a person’s mood.

It can also be beneficial to their cognition and physical health.

He said it’s okay to be sedentary once in a while, but if it’s happening consistently it can have negative effects. For example, it can impact your blood pressure, cholesterol and sugar levels.

So, how can you encourage an older adult to socialize?

Dr. Factora said you could always go to their home to visit, ask them to go on a walk or make them a meal.

Many communities also offer activities and programs they could attend.

“You have to be able to take the risk and do something different than what you’re used to to help increase the chances you won’t be isolated,” he said. “And those opportunities, if they’re brand new and people you don’t know – you can look at it as an opportunity to make new connections and meet new people.”

Dr. Factora said older adults who may already be experiencing feelings of depression should really speak with their doctor. They can offer different treatment options.

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