Wellness Check

The Important Health Benefits of Staying Social

Jul 2023 | By Vivienne Singer

Socialize. It’s Good For Your Health.

Think back to when you were in your early twenties. If you had more friends back then than you have today, you’re not alone. When we’re young, we tend to place a lot more value on having a busy social life. As we get older, though, we turn our focus towards careers, romantic relationships, raising families, and even caring for aging parents. And with less time for play, our friendship circles often diminish – in some cases, to our detriment.

Being social supports our wellness, both physically and emotionally – especially in our senior years.

According to the Canadian census, approximately 25% of adults 65 and above live alone. This, says the National Institute on Aging, can leave us vulnerable to heart disease, high blood pressure, depression, obesity, and Alzheimer’s disease. Case in point, a 2019 study found that 60-year-olds were substantially less likely to develop dementia if they spent time with friends almost daily, versus only seeing a couple of friends every few months.

As we age, we learn to appreciate our own company and that’s a good thing – but it’s essential that we still make a point of spending time with others, even if it takes us out of our comfort zone. 

If solitude has become the norm for you, let the benefits of a healthy social life inspire you to get out there and mingle. If you’re not sure where to begin, here are five options for you to consider.

1. Reach out to your relatives: Think siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles, nephews and nieces. Just because you’ve limited family time to birthdays and holidays in the past doesn’t mean you can’t shake up your routine and arrange more frequent get-togethers. Tapping back into your shared history can help strengthen bonds and add quality to not only your life but also theirs.

an image of a woman at a book club2. Join a local group: Begin by thinking of things you enjoy doing alone, and then search for a group that allows you to indulge your passion in a more social setting. Love reading? Look for a book club. Enjoy painting? Take an art class. Like walking? Join a hiking group. If you haven’t done so yet, think about joining Meetup. This online platform was designed to help people like you meet others you can learn and grow with.

3. Volunteer: Volunteering for a cause that’s dear to your heart is an excellent way to meet people who share your values. Participate in the cleanup of a local park. Walk dogs for the local adoption centre. Serve food at a homeless shelter, or canvas for your favourite politician.

4. Travel: Enter “group travel tours adults 55+” on Google and 395,000 results appear in 0.52 seconds. Whether you’re interested in a one-month adventure overseas or a more modest weekend getaway in your home province, you’ll find no shortage of opportunities to participate in a group getaway with a fun-packed itinerary that’s sure to result in lasting friendships.

Woman socializing in front of their house5. Consider moving to an adult lifestyle community: Designed to attract adults with an interest in being active and social, adult lifestyle communities encourage connection through social, recreational, fitness, and other activities. Amenities range from gardens and games rooms to fitness centres, golf courses, and even on-site bistros. Whether you want to rent or own, explore your options using this adult lifestyle community search tool.