One of the biggest challenges many seniors face as they age isn’t healthcare, it’s losing their social network. As friends start to pass away or move to be closer to their families, many seniors find themselves without nearby friends to meet up with for everyday socializing.

Making matters worse, many seniors reach an age where they can no longer drive safely and start to have an increasingly harder time getting around as age continues to take its toll. It can get far too easy for some seniors to go days without talking to loved ones.

Humans are social by nature; feeling alone makes us sad. To fight the possibility of loneliness taking over as you age, make a special point of maintaining social connections into and through your retirement years.

Loneliness can lead to a number of health issues, including higher blood pressure, more susceptibility to the flu, and a higher risk of Alzheimer’s. On top of all that is the obvious truth that loneliness is painful in and of itself.

Several research studies have shown a strong correlation between social interaction and health and wellbeing among older adults and have suggested that social isolation may have significant adverse effects for older adults. For example, study results indicate that:

  • Social relationships are consistently associated with biomarkers of health.
  • Positive indicators of social well-being may be associated with lower levels of interleukin-6 in otherwise healthy people. Interleukin-6 is an inflammatory factor implicated in age-related disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular disease, and some forms of cancer.
  • Some grandparents feel that caring for their grandchildren makes them healthier and more active. They experience a strong emotional bond and often lead a more active lifestyle, eat healthier meals, and may even reduce or stop smoking.
  • Social isolation constitutes a major risk factor for morbidity and mortality, especially in older adults.
  • Loneliness may have a physical as well as an emotional impact. For example, people who are lonely frequently have elevated systolic blood pressure.
  • Loneliness is a unique risk factor for symptoms of depression, and loneliness and depression have a synergistic adverse effect on well-being in middle-aged and older adults.

Loneliness isn’t inevitable for seniors. By being proactive and seeking out opportunities to meet with other people, you can save yourself from the many negative consequences that come with loneliness.

Get out there and spend time with people, even as it starts to become more difficult. It’s as important to maintaining your health as taking your medicine or eating well.