Healthy Aging Month
A recent study by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) found nearly 4 in 10 adults over 40 say they lack social connections and report worse brain health. Those who were dissatisfied with their level of social engagement were significantly more likely to report a decrease in cognitive functioning in the previous five years.
Maintain Your Brain
When you're socially active, your brain is constantly engaged. The Global Council on Brain Health (GCBH, a collaborative from AARP) found those who are more socially engaged and have larger social networks not only have a higher level of cognitive function, loneliness and social isolation actually increase health risks in older people.* GCBH recommends seniors regularly interact with grandchildren, volunteer or join a club to maintain social connections. Seniors who don't have a circle of friends should reach out to family members or neighbors at least once a month.
GCBH's Brain and Social Connectedness Report also covers how social sites like Facebook and Skype help older adults maintain their social connections.
Socially Active = Physically Active
Arizona Senior Centers are a great place to not only socialize, but exercise. There are Senior Centers in every Arizona county, and many of them offer various programs to get you moving in group classes like yoga, dance, or low impact aerobics and strength training through the Silver Sneakers Fitness program, which caters to the 55+ crowd. Others offer outdoor hiking or walking programs.
To find a Senior Center near you, visit the Arizona Senior Center Association.
Take a Friend to Dinner for Your Own Good
When you get out of the house for a meal, it not only helps your mind, it helps your body, too. Socially-engaged seniors tend to eat more when they are being social.
"Seniors who are alone tend to not eat well. Seniors who socialize tend to eat better.. just getting seniors out is important because the depression with seniors is something you don't even realize."
-Nancy Nunez, Program Specialist at St., Mary's Food Bank in Phoenix
The DES Division of Aging and Adult Services (DAAS) works extensively with the eight Arizona Area Agencies on Aging (AAA). These nonprofits were chosen by the State to plan and coordinate services for older Arizonans at the local level. The AAAs advocate for older adults, and are a wealth of information on programs, options and community supports. Find your local AAA.
*The Brain and Social Connectedness: GCBH Recommendations on Social Engagement and Brain Health, AARP
By Connie Weber