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The Benefits of Being Social for Those With Alzheimer’s and Dementia

Helping Seniors Live A Better Life

Research has proven that social support plays a significant role in overall health as people age. Spending time with friends, neighbors and family members can boost quality of life, including both physical and mental health.

 

Improving Quality of Life Through Socialization

For some seniors – particularly those with memory loss – there may be fewer opportunities to socialize as they age. Whether driving and/or getting out of the house has become more difficult, their circle of friends has become smaller, their contact with former work colleagues has decreased or their memory impairment interferes with participating in activities, older adults tend to socialize less as they age.

However, a high level of social support – as found at Longleaf Liberty Park – has been shown to reduce stress, ward off anxiety and depression, and reduce the risk of some physical health concerns. In particular, engaging with other people in social situations seems to help patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia in several ways. In fact, it may even slow the progress of these conditions. One study found that cognitive abilities declined 70 percent more slowly in individuals who had frequent social connections compared to those who had little social contact with others.

The National Institute on Aging recognizes a strong correlation between social interaction and the health and well-being of seniors who choose to be social. Socialization supports brain health, and while the exact mechanism may not be completely understood, individuals with a strong social network generally retain more memories than peers who are more isolated.

For seniors to fully realize the health benefits of being social, support should include activity as well as physical companionship and conversation. In memory care at Longleaf Liberty Park, we incorporate purposeful activities, holistic wellness programming and frequent socialization into the daily lives of residents with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Our whole-person, whole-community philosophy, Masterful Moments®, means each activity, event and moment is an opportunity for social, spiritual, intellectual and emotional enrichment.

Loneliness can have a physical as well as emotional impact. Seniors who are chronically lonely often have elevated systolic blood pressure and are also at greater risk for depression. With meaningful socialization so readily available, seniors at Longleaf can realize benefits like stress reduction, better physical health and fewer psychological problems such as depression and anxiety.

Socialization, when provided in a safe, structured manner, can make a positive difference in the quality of life for those impaired by dementia. By making sure your loved one is receiving steady exposure to opportunities for socialization, you’re helping them to stay as healthy and connected as possible.

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