Fun Social Activities for Older Adults

  • August 8, 2018
Fun Social Activities for Older Adults

Humans are, by nature, social beings. Socialization is a key component to healthy aging, in addition to a healthy diet and a regular exercise routine. Those who are not often social with others may experience social isolation, which can be both a sign and risk factor of health dangers including dementia, chronic disease, depression and more.

Learn about how loneliness affects older adults, the benefits to remaining socially engaged throughout life, and activities that help fight loneliness—regardless of age.

The Rise in Lonely Older Adults

According to a study conducted by the University of California, San Francisco, 43 percent of seniors feel alone on a regular basis. This rise in lonely seniors is, in part, caused by more older adults living alone. Approximately 13.8 million non-institutionalized older persons live alone, according to a report by the Administration on Aging.

The increase of older adults living alone is compounded by the fact that a third of adults between the ages of 45 to 63 are single, and that 19 percent of women aged 40 to 44 have no children. Resulting in the “elder orphan” phenomenon, 22 percent of Baby Boomers will not have any family members to care for them as they age, increasing their odds of social isolation.

Limited mobility and sensory impairments, such as vision and hearing loss, are two other factors that cause loneliness. When diagnosed with a sensory impairment, older adults might not be as willing to leave their homes because they are embarrassed by their limitations, or they are simply not aware of the tools available to help them.

How Loneliness Affects the Elderly

Regardless of the reason, social isolation causes serious health risks for the elderly. Lonely older adults are more likely to experience the following:

  • Early mortality

  • Decreased mobility

  • Cognitive decline

  • Dementia

  • Elder abuse

  • Depression

  • Arthritis

  • Lung disease

  • High blood pressure

Luckily, there are plenty of programs and activities for older adults available to help them socialize with others, whether they are homebound or on-the-go.

Activities that Fight Loneliness for Older Adults

None of us enjoy feeling lonely, and loneliness has been proven to greatly decrease older adults’ quality of life. Fortunately, there are a variety of different activities for older adults to enjoy together, whether they are homebound or not.

Here are some simple ways you can fight loneliness and socialize with others:

  • Look for programs in your community. Community Centers often offer organized classes and events specifically for older adults in the surrounding area. Simply stop in to pick up a schedule in order to figure out which activities you’d like to try.

  • Senior day care programs. Similar to community centers, senior day care programs are specifically designed to offer social activities for seniors, such as crafts, cooking, games, and gardening.

  • Find an exercise partner. Not only is this a great way to socialize with others, but having a strong fitness routine will also help you maintain your independence. Plus, having a workout partner will keep you motivated and help you stick to your regimen.

  • Create a buddy system. You don’t have to go outside your comfort zone to socialize. Make new friends in your neighborhood, or perhaps reach out to old friends to see if they would like to join you for dinner. Organize a weekly meal at a nearby restaurant or a weekly game night to share some laughs to build a stronger sense of community.

  • Take an educational class. To combat the cognitive decline that typically accompanies loneliness, brain-stimulating activities like taking classes at a local community college are a great option. You might be surprised to find that your local community college or junior college actually offer special classes and curriculums for seniors. This one is a double bonus because not only will you be learning new things, you’ll also have the opportunity to make like-minded friends.

  • Volunteer. Not only is it a great way to give back, but volunteering also comes with many health benefits. Seniors who volunteer have been shown to experience fewer functional limitations, fewer symptoms of depression and longer life expectancy.

  • Don’t forget about a “man’s best friend!” In addition to providing companionship, pets also help improve seniors’ cognitive function, stress levels, blood pressure and heart rate. A dog can be especially helpful because they are guaranteed to take you out of the house for walks, where you are sure to connect with other dog owners!

Staying Safe While Socializing with a Medical Alert Device

While engaging in activities for older adults that promote socialization, the key is finding the right activity for you. You won’t get the most out of the time you’re spending with others if you’re not doing an activity that you particularly enjoy.

The best part about owning one of our on-the-go medical alert devices is that you can receive help no matter where life takes you. This means you can have immediate access to help whether you have a quiet night in with a friend or are out in the neighborhood for a long walk with your dog—you’re always protected!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Hilary Young is a health and wellness expert that specializes in both senior life and caregiving. She'd love to hear more about your thoughts on aging, healthy living, and caregiving, and you can find her on Twitter at @hyoungcreative to start the conversation.

KEYWORDS: elderly loneliness, causes of loneliness in elderly, social isolation, preventing social isolation, activities for seniors

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