When thinking about life today it’s easy to overlook the multitude of technological advances that have been made in our lifetime. Not to mention our near constant dependence on them each day. Just think for a moment about withdrawing money from an ATM, using a cellular phone, changing the channel remotely on your television or sending an e-mail. All of these innovations have only come about in the past fifty years, yet how can we imagine life without them?
However, with this newfound convenience and accessibility has come less of a reliance on personal connection and interpersonal relationships. Where once we would walk next door to borrow a cup of sugar from a neighbor, today we can actually get all of our groceries delivered within an hour from apps such as Instacart, all without speaking to a soul.
Although it may be hard to believe in this day in age, face-to-face connectedness often does trump convenience. Especially since researchers are finding that loneliness fuels mental decline in old age. Research has found that lonely people regress cognitively at a faster rate than people who report more satisfying social networks and connections.
According to Bryan James, an epidemiologist at the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center in Chicago, higher levels of social interaction—even peripheral interactions—can have a high payoff for older adults. He goes on to explain that when our brain and body are used the way they were intended – with social interaction and connectedness – we age better.
Staying socially connected (I’m not talking about social media), having healthy, happy relationships and feeling close to others is so important for our overall health. Whether that means being part of a social group or club, volunteering, or just getting together with friends, we all need to feel like we’re a part of something. After all, how can we stay down if there are others there to pick us up?
Senior living communities such as The Merion, offer an abundance of opportunities for social interaction. Each week there are planned activities including live entertainment, clubs, games and programs, as well as access to the fitness center and dining venues. Residents live busy, fulfilling and socially engaged lives.