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Social Engagement

Could Facebook Hold the Key to Healthy Aging?

Maybe! Experts say that staying active and social can enhance your life as you get older and help stave off conditions such as dementia and depression.

Looking for that ever-elusive fountain of youth? Look no further. There are many things you can do to stay vital and healthy as you get older — such as exercising regularly and eating a healthful diet — but experts now believe that one of the best ways to age gracefully is to engage in a little social networking, both online and off.

The Benefits of Staying Engaged

As you get older, normal changes in your brain can make it more difficult for you to learn new information or remember things. In people who have dementia, this intellectual impairment becomes so severe that it interferes with their lives. Sometimes cognitive decline cannot be avoided, but in other cases, keeping your mind stimulated or interacting with your peers may help ward off dementia and depression, another common senior health concern.

Tips for Staying Socially Engaged as You Age

There are plenty of ways to stay socially connected and intellectually stimulated:

  • Nurture your social network. Make an effort to maintain your close personal relationships with family members, friends, church members, neighbors, and other important people in your life. Even if they’re not close by, you can still keep in touch by e-mail or Facebook. 
  • Join a club. Contact your local senior center and ask around to see if there are any clubs in your area you would be interested in becoming a part of. Attending regular book club, garden club, or art club meetings is a great way to meet new people and establish rewarding relationships with people who have similar interests.
  • Offer family assistance. If you have grandchildren or other young family members you would like to see more of, offer to babysit regularly. Chasing around after children is a great way to keep you physically active and improve your sense of well-being.
  • It’s not uncommon for older people to become socially and intellectually withdrawn. But if you make an effort to stay engaged as you get older, you will find more joy and satisfaction in life — and there is a good chance you will stay healthier as you age.

 


 

Socially Active Older Adults Have Slower Rates of Health Declines

Key points

  • Elderly people who are socially active and maintain or increase their interactions with others as they age have a slower progression of health declines than elderly people who become less socially engaged over time.
  • Socially engaged older people may be more motivated to maintain their health than their less-engaged peers.
  • Elders who are more socially active may have access to better health information than their less-engaged peers.

Staying connected to other people through a wide variety of social activities can yield important health consequences as you age.

That’s the message from a new study that found that older adults who maintain high levels of social activity or ramp up their social life as they age might be protected from increases in physical and cognitive issues over time.

 


 

Social support and activities

Social support services can help you to maintain an active social life by having someone visit you in your home, or by arranging visits and outings in the community. The benefits of social support and activities may include finding a place where you feel supported.

What types of services are available?

Social support services can include:
•visits to your home
•helping you with shopping and other related activities
•helping you to access support groups and recreational activities.

 

Community Visitors Scheme

If you are feeling alone and do not benefit from regular contact with family or friends, The Community Visitors Scheme (CVS) can provide an opportunity for social interaction.

The CVS provides visits from volunteers to recipients of Home Care packages. In each state and territory CVS organisations, have coordinators who will match you with a companion.

A CVS coordinator will take into account things like your interests, hobbies and background in finding a suitable regular visitor for you.

If you would like a community visitor, you can let your aged care provider know. Alternatively, your friends and family can let the provider know if they think you would benefit from the CVS, or your aged care provider might take the initiative and approach the CVS themselves. To find out how contact myagedcare on 1800 200 422 FREE.

Where do I receive social support services?

In most cases, you will receive these services in your own home, or in the community when you are accessing community services or facilities.

When do I need social support services?

If you are feeling isolated and not sure how to get involved in social activities, then social support services will help you stay active socially.

How do I get these services?

If you only need a couple of services to help you stay living in your own home, it is best to access them through the HACC Program. This program can assist you if you need extra help to stay in your own home longer.

About HACC

If you have more complex needs, a Home Care Package may be right for you. You can access similar services to the HACC Program, but on top of this, the services are coordinated and tailored to meet your specific needs.

 How much does it cost?

The Australian Government pays for the bulk of aged care in Australia. But as with all aged care services, it's expected you'll contribute to the cost of your care if you can afford to do so. You will never be denied the care you need because you can't afford it.

Any fees will be discussed and agreed upon with your service provider before you receive the relevant services.

 


 

Ways to Become Social

Have you participated in one or all of these types of activities:

  • family or friendship activities outside the household
  • church or religious activities such as services, committees or choirs
  • sports or physical activities with other people
  • other recreational activities involving other people, including hobbies, bingo and other games
  • educational and cultural activities involving other people such as attending courses, concerts or visiting museums
  • service club or fraternal organization activities
  • neighbourhood, community or professional association activities
  • volunteer or charity work

Tips

  • When talking with someone you don't know very well, start with something you have in common, even if the topic is about the school or work. Then as you start talking more, you can branch out to other topics.
  • Being social does not necessarily mean being friends with everybody. It's impossible to please everybody, and it is more rewarding to have a small circle of close, meaningful friends than to have a hundred mediocre, superficial friends.
  • Remember to try to always be yourself and not somebody you are not.
  • It is best to keep your personal views such as religion, politics, abortion, etc out of the conversation unless the person you are talking with is genuinely interested. Even then, try to keep your extreme point of views to yourself. These topics rarely lead to a pleasant conversation.
  • Try bringing a close friend along to whatever the event may be. Sometimes having someone else to support you, even if it's one person, can make you feel more confident.
  • Remember to smile and say hello to anyone you pass. It will help break the barriers, make you stick out in their mind and encourage them to come talk to you later on.
  • Avoid people who make you feel insecure about yourself. Rather, be around people who encourage you to progress.
  • Being positive has a good impact on others.
  • Don't be afraid to talk to someone new! They just might turn out to be a really close friend. Even though it may make you nervous to talk, just do it before you miss out on someone or something special.
  • Allow yourself to relieve the stress and just go for it! Do it now so you will not regret missing out on somebody later! This person might turn out to be your future friend!