As we age, normal changes in our brains can make it more difficult to learn new things and to retain information. Keeping your brain stimulated and maintaining social interaction with your peers may help you keep your mind sharp, and it can also help you avoid other mental health concerns, like depression. Explore five reasons why seniors should socialize. Here are a few ways you can help keep your senior mom social.
1. Use Technology
According to the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, people ages 74 and older are the fastest growing group of web-based social network users. Between 2009 and 2010, Facebook and Twitter experienced a 100 percent growth in users ages 65 and older. If Mom isn’t already, encourage her to join a popular social network or get a smartphone. With a smartphone, she can send text messages and emails to friends and family members so she can keep up with everyone. The great thing about social media hubs like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram is that they can help keep Mom connected to her friends and loved ones no matter how far away they are. Many places, from colleges to assisted living communities, offer technology classes for seniors so they can learn how to use all of these great social options. Search online or visit your local senior center to find information on tech classes that are offered in your area.
2. Join a Club
Clubs and group meetups are a great way to meet new people and keep in touch with old friends. They are a wonderful way for Mom to spend time with people with whom she shares similar interests. From books clubs, to garden clubs, to walking groups, there should be a wide variety of options available in your area. Your local senior center should have a list of several area clubs that are available to seniors. Websites like Reader’s Circle (for book clubs) and National Garden Clubs can help you find more specific types of clubs and groups that might interest Mom.
3. Take a Class
Help Mom sign up for a class that is held in a classroom or at a location, not online. Learning something new helps keep the brain stimulated, and being in a classroom with other people has the advantage of providing social stimulation as well. Local colleges and adult education centers offer a variety of classes for seniors who are continuing their educations. Mom can sign up for an art class, a creative writing course, or a computer class at a college or an adult education center near her.
If Mom is physically able to, volunteering is a great way for her to avoid isolation while she gives back to her community, contributes to a greater cause, and fosters her own feelings of accomplishment and of purpose. Government organizations like Senior Corps can help connect seniors to local and national organizations that need volunteers. The website VolunteerMatch can help you find the right place and volunteering opportunity for Mom as well. Places like your local food pantry and the women’s homeless shelter, and groups like Girl Scouts troops are always looking for local volunteers.
5. Have Family Get-Togethers
Having healthy family relationships is an important part of living a long and happy life. One study found that babysitting the grandkids could help lower Mom’s risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia. So find ways that your family can regularly get together more. Plan weekly family meals at someone’s home or eat out at everyone's favorite restaurant. Have the family participate in local trivia contests, dinner-making classes, or painting groups. You can use technology, clubs, classes, and volunteering all as ways to bring your family closer together. Take advantage of these opportunities together as a group, and Mom will always have someone with whom she can socialize.