We all know that eating a healthy, having a well-balanced diet and regularly moving your body are great ways to keep both the body and mind in great shape. But there’s another important factor in keeping you healthy and well as you age that people don’t always think about: your social wellness.
Social wellness is all about how you connect and interact with other people, whether it’s a partner or your family, your community and neighbours, or even just the person who serves you at the cafe or who you say hello to on your morning walk.
Living well with positive social interactions not only makes you feel good and improves your mental health, but it can also have very real positive effects on your physical health. And it’s even more important when it comes to senior health and wellness.
According to research by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, adults who engage in social activities with family and friends are more likely to be in good health, with older women more likely to engage in social activities than older men.
And according to the Healthy Ageing: The state of the evidence and available resources report by National Seniors Australia, increased social wellness and support is associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, cancer, dementia, and death from any cause. For those already living with a health condition, social support can also lead to a number of benefits like reduced stress, better psychological wellbeing and quality of life, and increased likelihood of successful treatment.
Other research has also found that positive social wellness can decrease the risk of anxiety, depression, and dementia linked to old age, including Alzheimer’s disease.
How much social interaction you need to feel connected and satisfied will differ for each individual, but social interactions aren’t about quantity, they’re about quality. Even just one trusted confidant who you interact with regularly is enough to improve your social wellness. Research has found that the presence of at least one other important person in your life is associated with fewer depressive symptoms, better self-rated health, and fewer days spent sick in bed.
So how do you get social and improve your social wellness
There are many ways to increase your social wellness, and getting social can look like many different things to different people, depending on your interests and personal circumstances. In particular, there are many ways to improve senior health and wellness through socialising.
If you have family close by, plan for regular catch ups, or even offer to look after any grandchildren. Get to know your neighbours and interact when you see them, even if it’s just a quick wave. If you feel comfortable, stop for a chat, or even invite them over for a cuppa.
You can also join community groups, or try out a new hobby or class at the gym. Volunteering is another way to enhance your social circle, and not only brings social connection but also a high level of personal satisfaction. Getting out and about is also a great way to increase incidental social interactions; you could say hello to the person walking their dog past, the person who bags up your groceries at the supermarket, or the bus driver.
And it doesn’t have to be face-to-face. The global pandemic has created even more ways for people to connect online, whether through video chatting with friends and family, joining an online class, or participating in online games.
If you live in a lifestyle community like AVA Communities, there are a number of ways to meet other people and improve your social life. In fact, moving in is almost like signing up for a built-in social life, if you choose it.
It’s easy to get to know your neighbours. Living well at a lifestyle community could look like registering for a class or joining a group trip to a local winery, gallery visit, fishing trip or a golf day. The community centre of a lifestyle community can also be a great place to arrange a time to meet others, or even just turn up and meet new people. While you’re there you can settle in for a game of cards, Mahjong, chess, Scrabble or pool, or get some friendly competition going with a lawn bowls tournament.
Click here to find out more about life at AVA Communities