Monday, August 8, 2022

Want a Longer Life? Join a Club!

Did you know that as older adults, being social is considered more important than exercising or accumulating wealth for longevity?

Here’s what older adults have to say —

Shama, (68) lives with her husband who is an introvert, they hardly converse and he has no desire to socialize or meet people other than for work, Shama on the other hand enjoys the company of people and is ready to socialize at any opportunity, she now finds herself getting lonelier by the day, the pandemic has not helped her situation. Not leaving her home since the lockdown or meeting friends has made Shama lose her zeal for life.

Vernon, (73) a life member at a club, post retirement has made it a routine to get his daily fix of chitter chatter over two whiskeys. Though a recent widower, with the pandemic clamping down on the most favourite part of his day, instead of cribbing, he rose to the occasion and has made the best of the situation by; joining an online bridge playing group, attending webinars on Zoom, or calling friends for a chat during his whiskey hour. Vernon made adjustments to stay social and keep his drum beating.

Two people, similar personalities, one has grabbed the situation and made the best of it while the other has retreated into a shell. I agree it can be very hard for many, especially people who are dependent on structured classes or groups or club life to socialize and keep busy.

 A daily routine of exercise, meeting people, and doctors visits for medical conditions or weekly shopping trips are planned week ahead to keep busy. Most of these are structured activities in lieu of the life they previously enjoyed. The lock down situation with strict guidelines and the fear of catching the variants of the virus is an added dampener.

What happens as we age, is that we get so stuck with our routine, our pace is slow and the effort to plan an outing can get too much. Social media taking over the world has its pros of connecting people from the comfort of your home and cons of getting so comfortable that you don’t want to leave home. Movies and theatre have found their space on the wall, even spiritual gatherings are widely available at the click of a remote and doctors’ visits are being structured online too. Leaving us but alone to entertain ourselves from dawn to dusk. 

Get out of the rut, I say, there is power in the human touch, aging presents a series of role transitions: ending a career for retirement, becoming a grandparent and perhaps even counting on help from the same children who once counted on you. Throughout all of these changes, socialization provides us with a way to learn through watching others navigate their own ways through these changes. Meeting personally has a different vibe to connecting through a gadget. It’s something to look forward to, it’s something to get up and get dressed for. The gift of friendship is irreplaceable.

Longevity is attached to routine exercise, avoidance of daily stress, food habits, medicine and keeping you abreast with technology in an ever evolving, renewing and restructuring world. But studies have proven that the more social groups that retirees belong to the longer and healthier they live.

The how’s and why’s of Turning Social —

 How’s —

  • While hitting the gym for your routine exercise make an after workout luncheon plan with a few gym buddies, break the monotony.
  • If a friend needs to go for a doctor’s visit, drive along and end the afternoon with a coffee date.
  • A treat at the salon could be a wonderful surprise for a friend.
  • A card game could become a daily fix; you never need to worry that you will run out of conversation.
  • There are innumerable groups that have existed for years these provide a platform to meet people especially for those who have moved to a new town, they usually have world wide affiliations, enroll yourself as a member, IMC, Indus, Rotary, you can be of great value to society at large by sharing your talent and life experiences.

 Why’s —

  • Studies show there is a six-fold difference in the mortality rate between older adults who socialized after retirement and those who isolated themselves.
  • A twenty-five percent drop in health not long after retirement, 6.6% retirees died within six years of retirement.
  • Having a sense of purpose, taking part in meaningful activity will keep adding healthy years to your life.

No matter how old you are, engaging socially with other people is important. Through socialization, we adjust our perceptions, increase our knowledge, acquire new skills and just have fun. Interpersonal relationships are often the most important part of a person’s life, and the mental stimulation they provide never gets old, even if you do. Social interaction also allows for the sharing, processing and comparison of perspectives and thoughts on aging and what it means to you on a personal level.

So what do you think?

Is it time you join a social club now that you have the wealth you need?

P.S. If you don’t enjoy exercising, expand your social network for a life of wellbeing.

Join a club.

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