When it comes to the health of senior citizens, we often think about the importance of exercise and a good diet to keep the body fit and strong. In doing so, the social component of wellness is often overlooked – in fact, loneliness can contribute to a decline in physical health, with higher rates of obesity, higher blood pressure and risk of heart attack, and more frequent admissions to hospital.
Most adults will interact with numerous people a day, whether they be co-workers, friends or other members of the family, so their social needs are more or less fulfilled without a second thought. However, for seniors living in isolation, natural social interactions are harder to come across.
There are plenty more reasons why companionship for seniors matters – here are some of the most important.
Swedish studies have concluded that loneliness can increase the risk of dementia in senior populations, but that those who partake in as little as ten minutes of talking to someone else will have improved memory. Therefore, meaningful companionship is crucial when it comes to the wellness of seniors, providing a boost that’s similar to brain exercises such as puzzles.Companionship Promotes A Faster Recovery
Remember the last time you were feeling very unwell, and somebody assisted you by bringing you drinks, snacks and checking on you to see how you were feeling? Now, compare that to the last time you were feeling very unwell, and went through it alone. It’s no wonder then that the elderly benefit in the same way, recovering faster from the pain of surgery companionship is present. It is known that seniors recovering from surgery with companionship suffer less nerve-related pain and inflammation levels, which helps to aid in the recovery process.
Researchers have known about the correlation between loneliness and mortality for many years now, with British research indicating that a lonely individual is more likely to suffer a premature death regardless of underlying health conditions. Companionship is therefore important, as it boosts the mood of older people and can decrease the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and much more.Companionship Helps Seniors Feel Safer
As we age, we understandably lose the ability to do things that we were so used to doing in the past, especially as mobility declines. For instance, falls are a prevalent issue across Australia, with around 30% of adults over 65 experiencing at least one fall per year and accounting for 40% of injury-related deaths in the same age group. Companionship provides a sense of security during these times – whether this come from family, and in-home caregiver, or neighbours within a retirement community.
From getting out of the house to chatting over coffee to walking the dog around the block, companionship benefits seniors in a myriad of ways. It can encourage exercise (which again contributes to better overall health), inspire new hobbies, promote volunteering and community work, and help to keep the mind sharp.
While human contact is preferred, companionship from pets can be extremely beneficial for seniors as well. Animals have been known to help reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and increase social interaction and physical activity. Of course, not everybody is fit to look after an active pet during retirement, so the right animal companion is a must.
Living in a like-minded community can be hugely beneficial to seniors, and this concept is at the heart of everything we do at Oak Tree. Find out more about Oak Tree benefits and facilities, and discover a bright future in retirement today.