What comes to mind when you think of living a healthy life in your golden years? Eating right and getting in regular exercise? While these two factors definitely contribute to leading a healthier lifestyle, it’s missing out on one of the most important aspects that play a big part in improving outcomes: a healthy social life. In fact, research has shown that a healthy social life can actually help you live longer!
It’s All in the Way Our Bodies Response
It can be easy to see how a healthy social life can lead to improved mental and emotional health; however, that’s not the end of the story. Individuals who have a supportive social network also experience lower levels of inflammation and are less likely to fall sick. Why is that so? To understand this, we have to understand how our bodies respond to stress.
When we are stressed, our bodies produce larger amounts of cortisol, also known as the stress hormone. In the natural world, this would have been beneficial when dealing with stressors such as running from a predator. In the modern world? Not so much. With prolonged periods of stress arising from work commitments or social isolation, this can have a negative impact on our health.
The Largest Stressor Facing Us Today
One of the largest stressors older adults face today is that of loneliness and social isolation. Loneliness was found to increase cortisol levels and inflammation. On the other hand, individuals who stayed socially connected to others experienced an increase in oxytocin levels. Also known as the “feel good” hormone, the effect of oxytocin on health is positive. Not only does it bring down cortisol levels, but it also changes the way our brains respond to pain and stressors.
Staying Socially Connected
Although it’s important for individuals to make the effort to stay connected with friends and family, thinking about social connection on a larger scale helps. This includes living in a safe and friendly neighborhood and having more face-to-face interactions as opposed to digital interactions.
If you are experiencing social isolation as an older adult, have you considered making the move to a retirement community? When you are surrounded by neighbors your own age who share similar interests, plenty of socialization opportunities can arise. You will never find yourself stuck in your apartment home with nothing to do when there’s always something going on in the community!
Discovery Village At The West End Offers a Full Calendar of Events & Activities
When you make the move to Discovery Village At The West End, you will find a full calendar of activities & events available for our residents to choose from daily. From card games and art & craft classes to themed parties and dances, there’s never a dull moment on campus. Come and discover everything we can offer you or your elderly loved one by scheduling a tour with us today!