More studies are now being done to monitor the effect that social participation has for seniors. Social participation is engaging in recreational, social and educational activities. It also involves cultural and spiritual activities. Many studies show the positive effects for seniors. Society is being shown ways to adapt to an aging population. This includes having seniors as an everyday part of their groups rather than separate.
How can social participation benefit the elderly?
- The more social activities a senior engages in the less disability they have shown. This is also the same for mobility problems. More social activity, more mobility.
- Those with depression have shown a marked improvement by becoming more socially active.
- Over time, cognitive decline is reduced by taking part in some form of social activity.
- Participating daily or weekly in some type of social event can reduce your risk of dementia by 40% compared to those who don’t participate.
- The majority of seniors who take part in activities feel that those activities increase their knowledge and give them an opportunity to try new things.
- Almost all seniors feel that the activities they engage in contribute to their health and well-being.
At the same time, it has come to light that social participation can be beneficial and not so beneficial at the same time. It can:
- Cause additional obligations in an already stressful life, resulting in mental health problems.
- Some seniors feel that they have to participate in some activities which lowers any health benefit they might have had.
- Many seniors feel that the more they volunteer and participate, the longer they will live. The exact opposite has proven to be the truth. As with many other things, moderation is the word.
- Social participation has shown to harm the mental health of many females but has helped males. This is still up for discussion because it depends on how much family support the females already have. For those without close family ties, social participation can sometimes offer support in these cases.
Since the jury is still out regarding the amount of participating the elderly should do, decide for yourself. Are you a social person to begin with who enjoys spending lots of time with others? In this case engaging in activities would probably help you. Are you shy or an introvert? Does spending time with others and meeting strangers make you uncomfortable? Then maybe a little less social time will make you feel better. We are all different so it isn’t any surprise that our amount of social activity will be different too!