Benefits of Social Support for the Elderly

An active and healthy social environment is critical at all stages of life, yet the presence of friends and family can play an even more vital role in the well-being of elderly individuals. Discover why.

Isolation is a major problem in the United Kingdom for the elderly, making social support a vital part of care across the country. Over 1 million elderly individuals admit to feeling lonely often or all the time. Those people, especially over the age of 75, can really struggle to maintain an active social life.

This isn’t hard to understand.

Age can impact numerous factors which we commonly associate with supporting a healthy social environment. These include health concerns, mobility issues, confidence factors and limited person-to-person contact. As these problems worsen, social activity becomes even more difficult, creating a loop that eventually results in deep isolation. Over half a million elderly individuals will only have the opportunity to speak to somebody one day a week.

But there are options available to combat this problem. The benefits of social support have been proven to make a massive difference to the lives of the elderly community. Discover how working with Abney & Baker could transform the life of yourself or a loved one.

Stay Happy

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We love to be social: we are social creatures. Spending time with people benefits us in many ways, including to help reduce symptoms of depression in the elderly — symptoms often caused by isolation.

But being part of a community can do more than just cheer people up.

It is often expected that elderly individuals will reach a point in their lives where it is simply a case of pottering along and waiting until the end. This is an unhealthy outlook and one that does not reflect reality.

Living a driven and satisfying life is essential to good mental health and general happiness, and it’s something everyone can achieve. It doesn’t matter if you are 18 or 80: life is about living. Being social helps to maintain a sense of purpose in elderly individuals who may not be able to focus on other areas of life that drive other generations, such as work, demanding hobbies, sports, travel, etc.

Getting out and achieving such social interaction can be tough for some elderly people, which means they may lack that purpose and drive that makes us happy and pushes us all forwards. As a result, they fall into those unhealthy mental patterns.

One of the benefits of social support is that it can enable this kind of human connection and result in a lifestyle that is worth living — one that encourages a happy and healthy mental state.

Stay Healthy

So being sociable is good for mental health, but what about physical wellbeing? Research suggests that the benefits of social support go beyond keeping an individual happy.

Social activity has been shown to reduce health problems like high blood pressure and stress-related illness while increasing a person’s motivation to maintain a good diet, physical activity and general health. And the results speak for themselves.

People who are socially active live longer.

Loneliness and social isolation are one of the biggest predictors of health decline. Maintenance of an active community presence, spending time with family and friends and getting involved in other types of social activities have been proven to directly affect the human lifespan.

Slow and Manage Dementia Onset

Social activity results in better mental agility, studies have found. Research has found that elderly individuals who are active in their community have stronger cognitive abilities than those who don’t.

Social structure provides stimulus for mental engagement, challenges people through conversation and encourages them to do different things. All of these factors play into the growth and development of cognitive function, helping to keep the mind sharp.

This is perhaps one of the most unsung benefits of social support because it pro-actively fights the causes and symptoms of dementia, an illness that affects nearly one million Brits.

Studies have revealed that cognitive health is directly related to the onset and development of dementia and that actively working to improve and maintain mental ability can lead to a reduced impact of symptoms and better long-term outlook.

Health and happiness: that’s all we want out of life. It may be harder to experience for the elderly, at times, but it is by no means out of reach. The benefits of social support services, such as those offered by Abney & Baker, are clear. Get in touch today to find out what we offer.