How Your Social Environment Impacts Healthy Aging

The key to healthy aging is maintaining a healthy social environment.

It’s always a good idea to take care of yourself at any age, but once you hit 55, it becomes more important than ever to focus on your health. There’s more to healthy aging than making sure you eat right and exercise three times a week, however. Your mental health is just as crucial as your physical health, which is where your social environment comes into play.

You may enjoy staying at home and watching a movie or reading a book by yourself, but we also need to socialize with others as well. That’s where 55+ communities come in. They can offer you the chance to do both and have a good time while doing so.

What Is a Social Environment?

Mature female friends socializing in a backyard together
It’s important to seek out a healthy social environment.

So what exactly is a social environment? Is it just something you do when you go out for a night on the town, or is there more to it than that?

According to the site Study, “The social environment consists of the sum total of a society’s beliefs, customs, practices, and behaviors.”

With that being said, not all social environments are healthy. From schools to workplaces, and even homes, your social environment may be doing more harm to your mental health than good. This is why it’s important to seek out a healthy social environment.

What Is a Healthy Social Environment?

Group of mature female friends walking through a field and posing for a selfie
A healthy social environment should leave you feeling secure in yourself and those around you.

Before we discuss what makes a social environment healthy, we must define what makes one unhealthy.

According to an article published on the National Library of Medicine, “Across multiple environments, unhealthy environments are those that threaten safety, that undermine the creation of social ties, and that are conflictual, abusive, or violent.”

In other words, it’s a place where you are physically, emotionally, or mentally harmed, or simply don’t feel safe. It’s also a place where you don’t have much control over your day-to-day life.

On the flip side, a healthy social environment should leave you feeling secure in yourself and those around you. Having the ability to make decisions, interact with those around you, and feel safe while doing so are all important aspects of a healthy social environment.

This can mean different things to different people, but essentially, you’re comfortable and happy with the place you live. Yes, there will be times when life hits, and nothing seems to be going right, but it shouldn’t be all the time.

How Does a Healthy Social Environment Contribute to Healthy Aging?

Happy senior friends sitting on couch and playing cards while drinking tea
A healthy social environment can contribute to healthy aging and help you live longer.

Vital Record reports that there are three different types of relationships you’ll have in your life.

  1. Intimate: This is a spouse or partner.
  2. Relational: Family and friends
  3. Collective: groups you are associated with as well as those you meet out and about on a regular basis

Having a social circle around you helps prevent loneliness or a feeling that you simply don’t belong. This in turn leads to stress, which can have a negative impact on healthy aging.

According to Harvard Health Publishing, not having a strong social environment can cause harm to your:

  • coronary arteries
  • gut function
  • insulin regulation
  • immune system

Conversely, a healthy social environment can contribute to healthy aging and help you live longer. Psychology Today reports that an active social life can:

  1. Help you live longer
  2. Increase your physical and mental health
  3. Lower your risk of dementia

A 55+ community can fit into the relationship categories of relational and cognitive and will provide you with a secure place to live.

Does Living in a 55+ Community Really Affect Healthy Aging?

Mature friends laughing and having a conversation in the kitchen
Living in a 55+ community has a lot of benefits.

According to Greater Good Magazine, having a healthy social environment has a lot of surprising benefits.

The article mentions a study done by Yvonne Michael, an epidemiologist from the Drexel University School of Public Health. In one survey, she learned that out of 14,000 seniors in Southeastern Pennsylvania, those who had a reliable social circle had greater mobility than those who were more isolated.

The article went on to emphasize that there are two factors that are crucial to a healthy social environment. These are trust and helpful neighbors. In other words, you need to be around people who you would trust to look after your dog while you’re away, or just come by to check on you if they haven’t seen you come out of the house lately.

Living in a 55+ community has a lot of benefits. Most are located in areas where shopping malls, churches, hospitals, doctor offices, grocery stores, and parks are located. This means you’re close to the local hub and don’t have to travel far to get what you need.

Another study by Michael revealed that people living in a senior community were more willing to get early cancer screenings. This helped increase their life, as they got early treatment.

How Does a 55+ Community Manage All This?

A group of seniors with an instructor climbing rocks outdoors
Choosing to live in a 55+ community gives you the chance to focus on you for a change.

Choosing to live in a 55+ community comes with plenty of benefits designed to make your life simpler and more enjoyable. It gives you the chance to focus on you for a change, rather than having to deal with everything yourself.

Some perks of living in a 55+ community include:

  • Having someone else to handle the yard work
  • Living close to people your own age
  • Having someone around to help if you need it
  • On-site medical care in some cases

There are often lots of planned events and activities you can get involved in while in a 55+ community, such as:

  • Holiday parties
  • Walking trails
  • Book clubs
  • Yoga
  • Swimming pools
  • Golf
  • Pilates classes
  • Art classes
  • Dances

These aren’t required, of course, and you’re welcome to skip them if you choose to do so. It’s good to have the option, however, especially if you’re feeling lonely and want to get out and about for a change. The best part is when you’re tired of socializing, you’re already home, so you don’t have to travel far.

It’s Not Just About the Planned Events and Activities

Stylish senior lady painting in art class with friends outdoors at a table in the garden
Let 55places help you find your perfect environment for healthy aging.

Yes, participating in fun activities with people you enjoy being around can help improve your life. But there’s more to living in a 55+ community than heading to the latest dance.

You’ll have a community of people around you who will get to know you. Many will be there to support you in your time of need, and you’ll have the chance to help others as well. Whether it’s just saying hello as you pass them on the trail or helping your neighbors carry in the groceries, you’ll have the healthy social environment that you need.

Let 55places help you find your perfect environment for healthy aging. Give us a call at (800) 928-2055 or contact us today for more information.

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