As we age, the onset of certain diseases and conditions can cause us to stay withdrawn and isolated. Unfortunately, avoiding social interaction with others can ultimately lead to depression and anxiety. Research shows that about 10-15% of the aging population in Australia have depression which is most typically caused by the death of a family member, loved one or pet.
Fortunately, there are several proven ways seniors maintain a healthy mental state and ultimately improve their quality of life. One such method is through community or social participation.
What is social participation, and how does it help seniors?
Community or social participation is encouraging people to participate in projects that may improve their own wellbeing. For the elderly, this involves participating in activities that allow one to interact with others, often people their age.
Promoting social participation is vital to allow seniors to meet their fundamental human needs for self-actualisation and socialisation.
So, how does social participation improve seniors’ health and well-being?
Depression and anxiety are well-known side effects of aging, and being lonely and isolated are usually to blame. However, joining various social participation programs can positively impact one’s cognitive ability, helping the elderly prevent Depression, Dementia, and Alzheimer’s.
Several research studies show a strong correlation between involvement in social activities and improved health outcomes and mental well-being among the elderly. Some of the benefits experienced by social engaged older adults include:
- Improved overall health: Engaging in various social activities enhances the physical and mental health of the elderly. For instance, seniors may take part in community projects that require them to move from one place to another and interact with people. In turn, this boosts their physical health and aids a positive mental state.
- Enhanced cognitive functioning: Joining social participation programs keeps seniors mentally engaged and ensures their minds are always sharp. It also gives them a feeling of belonging and meaning in the community. This can reduce the risk of depression and may prevent the development of Alzheimer’s or dementia.
- Increased longevity: Along with sound health habits such as exercise and an optimal diet, having a solid social circle of family members and friends is key to staying happy among older adults. People who are happier are likely to live longer, past 85 according to Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
These benefits provide motivation and inspiration for the elderly to maintain their ability to function through community participation. Care practitioners and public health advocates should prioritise seniors’ social participation to enhance their mental and physical well-being.
Social participation from OSAN ABILITY
As you get older, it’s important to feel a sense of belonging within a community and connect with people your age. OSAN Ability has a range of community participation programs for seniors run by expert support workers, with the goal to improve their mental and physical well being. Get in contact with us today to find out how we can help you.