Staying Socially Active as You Age

By Richard Asa @YourCareE
August 18, 2023
Staying Socially Active as You Age

If you maintain close friendships and interact socially as you age, you’ll most likely live longer and boost your immune system to protect against disease.

Staying socially active as you age isn’t just about having fun. If you maintain close friendships and interact socially, you’ll probably live longer and boost your immune system, protecting against disease.


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Benefits of staying social active as you age

One large study found that an active life appears to lessen the decline in well-being of older adults even when they have health-related challenges.

"Our results indicate that living a socially active life and prioritizing social goals are associated with higher late-life satisfaction and less severe declines toward the end of life," said study lead author Denis Gerstorf, PhD, of Humboldt University in Berlin.

Researchers observed that the combination of low social participation and lack of social goals magnified the effects of lower levels of well-being.

“A socially engaged lifestyle often involves cognitive stimulation and physical activity, which in turn may protect against the neurological and physical factors underlying cognitive decline,” said co-author Gert Wagner.

How to stay socially active as you age

  • Keep in touch with your friends and family, visiting them regularly.
  • Volunteer
  • Participate in activities at a senior center or community center.
  • Join a group that focuses on your interests.
  • Take a class.
  • Travel.
  • Join a gym or fitness center to stay in shape and interact with others.

When you can’t be with someone face-to-face, call or text them, write a letter, or send emails. If you’re not comfortable with computers, ask a young relative for help.

You can control your social life. While physical or health-related challenges might keep you from participating in certain activities, your decision to socialize is more open ended, another study concluded.

“People have some control over their social lives, so it is encouraging to find that something many people find enjoyable — socializing with others — can benefit their cognitive and physical health,” said study author Patricia A. Thomas, PhD.

Conducted at intervals that ranged from three to seven years, the study found that older adults with high levels of social interaction that slightly decreased over time, and those who had medium to high levels that increased over time, had fewer cognitive and physical limitations.

Older adults who began with low levels of social engagement that decreased further over time didn’t fair as well.

“Even if older adults weren’t socially active when they were younger, when they increase social activity later in life, it can still reduce physical and cognitive health issues,” Thomas said.


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August 18, 2023

Reviewed By:  

Janet O’Dell, RN