Ageing is a journey that is better shared, and sharing the golden moments with the people around you is priceless. From reminiscing about the good old times to catching up on the years in-between, there are parts of one’s life that family and friends can relate. Carving time out to socialise is important for one’s mental well-being, at any age. For older adults, staying connected with friends and family and engaging fully in life through social activities are key to successful ageing. So instead of staying at home, why not make it a goal to stay connected with old friends or get to know new ones more regularly?
Social Benefits of Staying Connected
Isolation and loneliness are known risk factors for poor physical and mental wellbeing. As we get older, keeping a healthy social calendar is important to keep illnesses such as depression or dementia at bay. Socialising can help one to stay involved in the community and connected with friends and family, including numerous health benefits such as:
Higher functioning immune system
Studies have shown that extroverts are less likely to catch a cold as social engagement is linked to a stronger immune system, especially for older adults.
Boost feelings of wellbeing and improves mood
Staying connected with others and reconnecting with old friends on a regular and consistent basis helps to improve mood and lift our spirits, keeping depression at bay. Don’t wait till you are feeling down to call a friend.
Lower risk of dementia
A study has shown that having an active and integrated social life in the latter part of your life might protect against dementia. In general, people who socialise more tend to perform memory tests and other cognitive skills better than those who are socially isolated and whom do not expand their social circle.
For those living with a chronic medical condition, forming social and supportive networks are highly beneficial for the management of their illnesses. Being active in a support group, WhatsApp chats or online forums can provide emotional relief, companionship and new ideas to deal with any problems.
1. Ideas for Social Activities
Ready to get social? Find new ways to expand your social your circle and get it going! You can gather a committee and organise a high school reunion, start a music band, chess club, or reading society while learning some skills. Here are some ideas to kick-start your brainstorming.
2. Organise a School Reunion to Reconnect with Old Friends
Has it been 50 years since you graduated from secondary school, junior college or university? Why not reconnect with your classmates and organise a reunion? It can be an official event organised with your alma mater or simply an informal affair over dinner and drinks. The chance to reminisce, bond over laughter and share life stories is worth it. Who knows what may come out of a reunion of hearts and minds?
Tip: You can reconnect with old friends via the online social network Facebook or by making a trip to your alma mater/old neighbourhood.
3. Reignite Your Passion for Music
Not only does music have therapeutic benefits, but it also brings people with shared interests closer together. Organise a karaoke competition or dance-off. Form a new band and jam together. Music is a fun and stimulating way to spend time with friends.
Tip: Picking up a new skill such as learning an instrument stimulates different neurons of the brain and also helps to keep dementia at bay.
4. Play Games and Expand Your Social Circle
Pit your wits against one another and stay mentally active by engaging in social activities and games that require mental effort. Games such as chess, card games or a friendly round of mahjong are challenging to the brain as they require strategy, memory and problem-solving. You’ll not only be keeping active in old age but also expanding your social circle.
Tip: Take the games up a notch by organising a neighbourhood championship, with the king or queen duly crowned.
5. Take Active Ageing Outdoors
Keep fit together and reap the health benefits. Whether it is forming a walking or running group or having a regular golf buddy, exercising in groups with good friends in the company of nature has got to be one of life’s greatest and simplest pleasures.
Tip: Switch off the television and organise a badminton or lawn bowling game with your friends! Exercise improves mood and feeds the brain with oxygen for it to perform optimally and keep you mentally alert.
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