Jul 17

Social Engagement Supports Well Being

elderly woman hugging younger woman

July is Social Wellness Month, a time dedicated to fostering connections, promoting meaningful interactions, and nurturing the spirit of togetherness. Social well-being is essential for individuals of all ages and it can be especially challenging for older adults who have limitations that make it hard to go out and engage with their communities.

While physical well-being often takes center stage, we mustn’t overlook the profound impact that social engagement can have on overall health and happiness. Research has shown that maintaining an active social life can contribute to reduced stress, enhanced cognitive function, increased self-esteem, and a greater sense of purpose.

Understanding that some older adults may face limitations that hinder their ability to go out and participate in traditional social activities, we are always thinking about ways for homebound older adults to connect socially. Here are some ideas:

  1. Invite local friends and family to visit often- Visits don’t have to be lengthy or involve an elaborate meal. Encourage all generations to come by to give updates on their life or play a board game or a card game. Perhaps a visitor can bring a snack, such as a favorite ice cream to share. Let visitors know that best time of day to visit and to call ahead.
  2. Local Council on Aging programs: Check the resource column on our website here to find your local Council on Aging and look at their social programs. Many offer virtual as well as in-person social gatherings. Some provide transportation that may make it possible to attend in person.
  3. Phone calls and video chats: After our extensive period of isolation during the pandemic, many are tired of phone calls and video chats, but they can still be very valuable when going out is challenging. Some older adults may find phone calls difficult due to hearing, speaking, or vision issues. Read this blog post on our website here to find out how specialized phones from MassRelay can help. And remember that many video chat apps have a closed captioning feature that can make virtual chats/calls accessible for those with hearing loss.
  4. Friendly Visitor Program: Friendly Visitor volunteers provide one-on-one companionship to combat social isolation through regularly scheduled visits and activities. Springwell Friendly Visitor Volunteers are currently matched with isolated older adults in Belmont, Brookline, Needham, Needham, Waltham, Watertown, Wellesley, and Weston. Often the social interaction is as rewarding for volunteers as it is for the older adult. Learn about becoming a volunteer Friendly Visitor here.

What are your favorite ways to support social connection for older adults in your life?