Has your social life changed as you have gotten older? It is no surprise that networks of friends and social activities tend to change as people age. But you might be surprised to learn that seniors who build or maintain social connections tend to stay healthier, longer.
Getting involved in activities and building connections with other people can be important to your well-being. People who report lower loneliness and lower social isolation also appear to live longer, happier lives, according to the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project. Participating in social and productive activities is recommended by the National Institute on Aging as part of an approach to aging well.
Here are three ways you can stay active and build connections:
When you care about the cause and the people you are working with, you are more likely to have fun and to stick with it. And people who feel a sense of purpose as they age tend to have better health. If you are looking for a place to start, there are programs that connect volunteers with service opportunities. Check out www.getinvolved.gov, www.serve.gov, or www.volunteermatch.org.
Cornwell, B., Laumann, E.O., & Schumm, L.P. (2008). The Social Connectedness of Older Adults: A National Profile. American Sociological Review, 73(2), 185–203.
Cornwell B., Laumann E.O. (2015). The health benefits of network growth: new evidence from a national survey of older adults. Soc Sci Med. Jan;125:94-106. doi:
Steptoe, A., Shankar, A., Demakakos, P. & Wardle, J. (2013). Social isolation, loneliness, and all-cause mortality in older men and women. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA
Participating in Activities You Enjoy: More Than Just Fun and Games: Tips from the National Institute on Aging:
Windsor, T.D., Curtis, R.G., Luszcz, M.A. (2015). Sense of purpose as a psychological resource for aging well. Developmental Psychology, Vol 51(7), Jul 2015, 975-986.
These articles are not a substitute for medical advice, and are not intended to treat or cure any disease. Advances in medicine may cause this information to become outdated, invalid, or subject to debate. Professional opinions and interpretations of scientific literature may vary. Consult your healthcare professional before making changes to your diet, exercise, or medication regime.