Before the word “COVID” became a household name, a friend and I had organized a Senior group in our community. She was tired of spending Friday evenings at home and I was looking for a challenge and thought I would help her out. Together we developed a calendar of events ranging from bird watching and art classes to learning the ukulele and participating in a musical theatre play. We gathered together with like-minded seniors and enjoyed the comradery, learned new skills and laughed together. And then came the lock-downs. It was like listening to a beautiful musical composition and someone suddenly scratches the needle of the turntable across the 33 LP and the music comes to a scratchy, screeching halt.
These past 18 months have been difficult for many of us, but in particular, for seniors. Being socially isolated has kept us indoors and away from our family and friends, but the summer in Alberta has allowed us to mingle once again as restrictions lifted and we can get outdoors and take time to be social once again. We can take off our masks and see those smiling faces.
Being with others, visiting with family and friends and engaging in personal conversations is important. We are naturally social beings and we are wired for relationships. The cognitive benefits from interacting with others in a positive manner is enormous. Laughing, talking and sharing can boost our immune system and keep us healthy. It gives us a sense of purpose. It’s something to look forward to as well. We can learn, laugh, and try new things.
Proverbs 15:13 ESV “A glad heart makes a cheerful face but by sorrow of heart the spirit is crushed.”
Finding those opportunities to socialize can benefit ourselves and others. Are you ready to try some of them and enrich your life, not to mention having a little fun?
- Join a local senior centre, club or group in your area based on your interests such as reading, crafting, bird-watching, singing, gardening, walking
- Sign up for exercise or educational classes that interest you.
- Organize a regular game night weekly or host a creative theme party and make friends with others you can laugh with
- Start a walking group or fun day outings with others
- Start or join a band or a singing group
- Get a job or a dog or cat
- Get more active on social media or networking sites such as Facebook, Meet Up or check out dating sites.
- Consider moving from your home into a senior facility to meet more people.
- Host a cultural dinner potluck party
- Start a writing or a poetry reading club
Recent research indicates that people who are more social tend to live longer, improve their cognition and have better mental health by having daily contact with a network of people. Stress, depression and anxiety were also lower in older adults who maintained positive social ties. Personal contact was also more effective. And so, what better reasons to get out and play. After all, laughter is medicine for the soul. Wishing you much joy this summer season.