Social interaction good for health

Social interaction good for health

Suicide rates among older adults are rising, especially in men, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

Between 2001 and 2021, suicide rates increased significantly for men ages 55-74 and women 55-84, though rates for women were significantly lower. Among older men, the suicide rate generally increased with age, with men 85 and older having the highest of any age group.

As to why older adults are at risk for suicide depends on many factors, according to AARP. These can include loneliness and social isolation, grief over the loss of a partner, diminished decision-making abilities, and drastic life changes, such as retirement or a life-threatening physical or mental health diagnosis.

Research has shown that for older adults, staying engaged in enjoyable activities is associated with better physical and mental health, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Learning a new activity can provide some “insurance” against memory loss, though it cannot prevent progressive diseases like Alzheimer’s and other dementias.

The CDC suggests the following to help seniors stay socially active:

  • Participate in sports
  • Join a walking, hiking, or birdwatching group
  • Join a choir, band, or take music lessons
  • Get involved in a church, temple, or other religious organization
  • Read, join, participate, or start a book club
  • Volunteer for a cause or group you are passionate about
  • Take classes at a gym
  • Find or start a group that fits your passion
  • Indulge your creativity with a themed dinner club or take an art class