Strong social connections and regular exercise have consistently been shown that together they contribute heavily to a long and healthy life. It is estimated that 20% of older Australians are socially isolated2. This social isolation leads to less exercise, further multiplying the factors that affect health and well-being as we age. The Jelly Bean Minstrels are proof though that age does not mean your best days are behind you.
Causes of Social Isolation in Older Australians
The loss of a spouse, physical mobility, distance from family and a real or perceived mental decline are common factors. Ageism, discrimination based on age, can make an elderly person feel like they don’t belong in a certain environment. Moreover, social isolation can be a vicious cycle. Loneliness can impact self-esteem which reduces a person’s confidence to seek out much needed social situations. This cycle simply becomes harder and harder to get out of.
Health Benefits of Social Activity in Older People
It is easy to see a connection between social isolation and mental health. It is natural to want someone to talk to in order to relieve stress and anxiety. Being stressed or anxious can affect the immune system and cardiovascular health. Social stimulation also keeps people engaged intellectually which is a preventative factor to memory loss and dementia. Still, the biggest health benefit of social activity is the likelihood to undertake physical exercise.