If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that people need people. Social distancing and safer-at-home policies designed to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus have left many feeling isolated and alone, decreasing social wellness.
In a June 2020 University of Michigan poll, more than half of older adults reported feeling isolated from others – up 100 percent from 2018. The poll found strong associations between limited social contact and depressive symptoms.
The need for social connection explains why social wellness is so important for older adults. Healthy social connections improve quality of life and can ward off a range of health issues.
At Friendship Village of Dublin, we’ve known this all along! Our social wellness programs help seniors live life to the fullest.
“We know shared experiences add joy to life, and positive relationships provide a cushion against stress and anxiety,” said Executive Director Rita Doherty. “That’s why so many of our wellness programs contain a social component. We help residents connect and build supportive, healthy and nurturing relationships.”
Social wellness is just one of nine dimensions of wellness we call The Village Way. This holistic approach to healthy living helps our residents enjoy life in perfect balance.
Isolation Linked to Health Risks
Even before the pandemic, social wellness was a challenge for many seniors. A 2018 study funded by AARP found that 43 percent of U.S. adults age 60 or older reported feeling lonely.
According to research compiled by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), increased isolation can exacerbate cognitive decline, depression, anxiety, and health conditions such as high blood pressure in seniors.
The Centers for Disease Control reports that social isolation significantly increases a person’s risk of premature death from all causes – a risk that may rival those of smoking, obesity, and physical inactivity.
Social Wellness Enhances All Aspects of Life
Studies show that seniors who remain socially active are healthier and live longer than those who feel isolated.
Positive social connection can help decrease stress and ward off anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues.
Having a healthy social network can enhance the immune system’s ability to fight off infectious diseases and speed healing. It’s also associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.
Increased socialization can enhance cognitive abilities and even reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia. In fact, a National Institutes of Health study showed that socially active seniors had a 70 percent lower rate of cognitive decline than those who had fewer social connections.
Social Wellness The Village Way
At Friendship Village of Dublin, social wellness impacts nearly every aspect of our community. We help residents make connections, build healthy relationships and get active together.
Jeanne Joseph, Director of Wellness and community life, says that her team weaves social aspects of wellness into dining, clubs, classes, arts and crafts projects, Bible study, fitness classes, concerts and other activities.
“Even during the pandemic, we’ve found creative ways to bring people together safely,” she said. “There’s a social aspect to so much of what we do!”
Here are just a few examples of the social activities and events our residents have enjoyed over the past few months.
- They got their hearts pumping with outdoor and video fitness classes and personal training.
- Sang along with local entertainers at on-campus concerts.
- Dined together under the stars in our Legacy Courtyard.
- Grew flowers and vegetables in our raised-bed gardens.
- Tasted craft beverages at our Beer, Brats and Buddies event.
- Competed at bocce, pickle ball, putt-putt, pool and shuffleboard.
- Took a virtual tour of Ohio during Active Aging Week.
We recently asked some residents what they love about living at Friendship Village of Dublin. Several mentioned the social aspects of their lives.
“I love the community atmosphere that we have here,” says Resident Michelle W. “I’ve never met anyone that I couldn’t relate to. Everyone’s very accepting.”
If you’re looking for a community where social wellness and having fun are top priorities, you owe it to yourself to explore Friendship Village of Dublin! We invite you to schedule a safe, socially distanced visit to learn how you can live your best life surrounded by friends and activities.