By Riya Aarini
As seniors grow older, what they value most in their lives hardly differs from the values of their younger counterparts. A fulfilling life may be experienced even as seniors age. Knowing what seniors want and value in their lives is a step toward satisfying their needs.
Strong Social Connections
Like it is for most people, positive relationships are among seniors’ topmost desires. Strong relationships with family and friends improve the health and wellbeing of older people. In fact, social connections directly correlate with an elderly individual’s wellbeing. Seniors still need love, friendship and care.
Without the comfort of friends and family, seniors feel isolated and lonely. Older adults who invest time in maintaining friendships tend to live longer. At the same time, aging can limit a person’s social circle; seniors simply develop different values and interests as they advance in years.
Loneliness resembles an illness and can be as harmful as a diagnosed medical condition. Chronic loneliness affects 40 million people over age 45. Social isolation is a public health hazard, because it can lead to loss of self-worth, sadness and depression. Emotional support gets seniors through tough times.
Strong social connections offer seniors a sense of belonging. (The need to fit in is common regardless of age.) Security is one benefit of feeling connected to a group. A further advantage of creating and maintaining a social identity is that seniors feel recognized and valued by other people.
Social priorities are in continual flux, however, as seniors grow older. Health issues, mobility problems and the passing of loved ones change what social connections seniors prioritize. Seniors’ social needs continue to be based on personality, expectations and culture. When people care, seniors feel secure.
Friends offer emotional care, sometimes more so than family. Good friendships deliver substantial doses of happiness to older people. Friends who share similar hobbies, interests and lifestyle provide not only joy but help seniors relieve stress, rebound from disease quicker and make better life choices.
In today’s world, it is easier than ever to remain connected with friends and family. From Skype to video chats to text messages, technology gives tech-savvy seniors a daily opportunity to converse with loved ones near and far. Long distances are no longer a barrier to social connectedness.
Friends and family are encouraged to visit, spend time with and learn from seniors. When loved ones live too far away to visit, professional caregivers can fill in. Companion caregivers develop meaningful relationships with care recipients in efforts to ward off loneliness and isolation.
It is no surprise that optimal health is linked with a high quality of life. Seniors who remain physically active prevent common illnesses (like diabetes and heart disease), improve existing health conditions, decrease their risk of falls and improve their mental health.
Whether tai chi or senior yoga, regular physical activity improves cognitive performance. Seniors reduce symptoms of depression and their risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease when they exercise on a routine basis. Active older adults ward off their risk for a stroke and high blood pressure, which in turn improves cognitive functions.
Aging adults prize good health because it allows them to remain functional and independent. Fit older adults are able to handle day-to-day activities on their own, which promotes feelings of self-esteem and confidence. A healthy senior is almost always a happy one.
Sense of Community
Seniors who are engaged with the community boast mental sharpness, strong emotional connections and enhanced brain health. Socializing also keeps aging adults young at heart. Sharing positive experiences with others is directly related to having a good outlook on life.
In this day and age, seniors want what most people desire. Surprisingly, and unlike young people, money is not among the things that most seniors value most. But they do value a high quality of life—just like everyone else.
Bio: Riya Aarini is a freelance writer based in the Midwest who specializes in nonfiction writing on a variety of topics.
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