Although loneliness may not seem like a significant issue, lack of social contact can have a seriously detrimental effect on the emotional and physical health of older adults, who are often most susceptible to isolation. It’s a fact of life that as people grow older, they will face an increased likelihood of losing close friends, relatives, and spouses. However, it’s not only death that may remove people from their life. Sometimes, a senior’s adult children have moved away, which can compound their isolation. In addition, older adults are usually no longer in the workforce, which cuts down on their opportunities for social interaction. They may also have health problems that can make it difficult for them to go out and take part in their community. However, meeting new people and finding new opportunities for social interaction isn’t as difficult as you think.
Benefits of Social Contact. Studies have shown a strong connection between social interaction and the mental and physical well-being of seniors. For instance, research shows that consistent human contact can reduce stress as well as the risk of depression, which occurs in more than two million of the 34 million seniors in the USA, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. As well, social interaction can even decrease the risk of dementia, a common disorder in older adults. It may surprise you to learn that socialization can also have a significant effect on physical health. Studies have found that consistent socialization can lower blood pressure, boost the immune system, and reduce physical pain. As well, older adults, who as a group are particularly vulnerable to malnutrition, often eat more — and eat healthier — when they dine in the company of others.
Increasing Social Connections. Sometimes all a senior needs is gentle encouragement to be more socially engaged. With a little nudging, they will sign up for courses, attend a senior center, or volunteer. These are all excellent ways to meet more people. Brookdale Senior Living strongly encourages social interaction among seniors. In fact, it is one of Brookdale’s Optimum Life six dimensions of wellness.
-Tara Bailey, Brookdale University Park
Call 205-870-0786 to learn more and schedule a tour.
Excited to Serve: Brookdale University Park’s New Executive Director
In January 2022, Brookdale University Park welcomed new executive director Wayne Plaisance to the Brookdale team. “As a senior myself, I understand the needs of our residents and I am excited about the opportunity to serve,” explains Plaisance who has more than 20 years’ experience in the senior living environment. He has served as the President and CEO of several hospital based and faith based organizations. For the past 13 years, he has led the Notre Dame Health System, a $ 50 million post-acute continuum sponsored by the Archdiocese of New Orleans. In addition, he was a founding Board Member of St. Anthony’s Gardens, a rental retirement community that offers independent, assisted, and memory care assisted living levels of care in Covington, Louisiana. Over the past 20 years, he has been responsible for Independent living, assisted living, memory care assisted living, skilled nursing, home health, hospice, and private duty.
Plaisance shares that he looks forward to using his experience to lead the vibrant community of Brookdale University Park. “The residents and associates at Brookdale make this a special place. It takes years to establish the kind of culture that is here, and I look forward to getting to know each resident and associate. Both residents and associates have already been very welcoming to me.” †