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The Vital Role of Social Relationships for Seniors

July 25, 2023

Have you ever noticed that as the seasons of life have changed, so have your friendships? Research confirms this phenomenon; younger folks tend to have more friends and relationships, while older adults have fewer and smaller—but stronger—friendships and social circles. Yet, humans are social creatures by nature, and fulfilling this need is as important in old age as it was in our younger years. In fact, some even claim that healthy relationships are key to successful aging. So how exactly do relationships with others benefit seniors? Not only that, but how can seniors stay connected as they age and continue to reap the benefits of friendships?

The benefits of social relationships for seniors are plentiful:

  • They help combat the negative aspects of aging, like losing loved ones, experiencing memory loss or loss of independence, and the onset of health issues. Socially connected seniors have built-in support systems in the face of adversity.
  • They lower the risk of developing depression or anxiety. Seniors with meaningful relationships with others are less likely to feel isolated.
  • They keep seniors active, and an active lifestyle offers many other benefits like lower risk of illness and independent living.
  • They reduce stress, which in turn contributes to longevity.

Connecting in the Community

Seniors who prefer to get out of the house to fill their social cup will find some great options in our community. One of these is the West Chester Area Senior Center, located on East Union Street in the borough. Here, seniors will find a community that meets their need for socialization and supports seniors in maintaining a healthy lifestyle through exercise classes, nutrition seminars, and recreational activities.

Your local YMCA also hosts a plethora of programming geared toward seniors, including fitness classes, team sports, social events, and health and wellness education. Creating a sense of community for neighbors of all ages is a cornerstone of the Y; it’s a meeting place for new and old friends to connect while cultivating a healthy lifestyle. Find your branch here.

Connecting from Home

Seniors can harness the power of technology to stay connected and engaged, enhancing their social lives from the comfort of their homes. Embracing video chat platforms like Zoom, Skype, or FaceTime allows them to see and hear loved ones, bridging distances and minimizing feelings of isolation. Virtual gatherings with family and friends for celebrations or casual catch-ups are now just a click away. Online classes and workshops provide opportunities to learn new skills, explore hobbies, and connect with like-minded individuals globally. Social media platforms enable seniors to reconnect with old friends, stay updated on the lives of loved ones, and join vibrant online communities. Additionally, streaming movies, documentaries, or virtual museum tours lets seniors stay informed and entertained. By embracing technology, seniors can maintain meaningful relationships, broaden their horizons, and combat social isolation with a newfound sense of connection and fulfillment.

Connecting at The Hickman

The very footprint of our neighborhoods at The Hickman invites gatherings and conversation in our many open-concept living rooms, community rooms, and shaded porches. Residents enjoy connecting with one another over meals in our dining rooms or working a puzzle with their neighbor down the hall. Our Community Life department hosts opportunities to meet other like-minded friends, such as:

  • book clubs
  • knitting circles
  • musical performances
  • exercise groups
  • prayer services

LifeLoop, a virtual platform that connects residents with their families, fosters connection and awareness. Family members can follow a resident throughout the day if they choose and send digital postcards documenting the families’ adventures.

Fostering and maintaining meaningful friendships remain essential aspects of successful aging. To stay connected, seniors can navigate these shifts by utilizing technology, community resources, and special gatherings. Embracing the power of senior friendships empowers them to combat loneliness, promote active living, and experience the joy of shared experiences, enriching their golden years with social vibrancy and fulfillment.