Staying Connected

Socialization and meaningful activities promote independence, improve wellbeing 

By Meghann Finn Sepulveda and Jennifer Drago

Socialization and involvement in activities of interest is key to helping people successfully age in their own surroundings. Without these connections, seniors can become depressed and isolated, which may lead to physical deterioration, according to the Institute on Aging. Socialization can make a huge difference in a person’s overall health and wellbeing.

Some key activities we all should consider to prevent isolation and contribute to overall wellness are:

Maintain relationships with friends and form new friendships.

Participate in a book club, bridge club, walking group or other hobby group.

Attend exercise classes.

Participate in educational classes of interest.

Take your dog to a local dog park – your pet can benefit from the socialization, too.

Attend local performances, such as plays or dances.

Stay active in your church or local civic organization.

Volunteer at a local nonprofit – your service can benefit others while helping to fulfill yourself.

Maintain regular interactions

Participating in activities outside the home can be advantageous, making a positive impact on health and wellbeing in many ways. Activities outside the home will increase physical activity and offer different surroundings, which provides mental stimulation and decreases feelings of isolation. Even participating in an activity once or twice a week can substantially increase connectedness and reduce the incidence of depression.

People can locate activities through recreation centers, senior centers or the community section of the local newspaper. For hobby enthusiasts, the local hobby shop will have information on upcoming classes and crafting groups in the area.

Renew activities of interest

Staying active with hobbies, the arts or a faith community can provide tremendous social support and stimulation. Has it been a while since you played mahjong? Would you enjoy attending a Bible study or a faith service? Take some time to think about the activities you have enjoyed in the past, and then locate those activities and renew that spark!

Invest in lifelong learning opportunities

According to the Pew Research Center, adults get a variety of benefits from pursuing personal education. These include feeling more well-rounded, opening up new perspectives about their lives, helping them make new friends, and prompting them to get involved in volunteer opportunities. In the West Valley, take advantage of the many free educational opportunities at local recreation centers, places of worship, libraries and community centers, including the Sun Health Center for Wellbeing.

If transportation is a challenge, residents of the West Valley can call the nonprofit Northwest Valley Connect at 623-282-9300 to find rides and transportation resources in their area.

Sun Health at Home: Helping members remain connected

Sun Health’s award-winning continuing care at home program, Sun Health at Home, offers seniors the opportunity to stay in the home that they love while engaging in activities that help to maintain and even improve, their health and wellbeing.

Sun Health at Home provides many social activities to its members, such as outings to museums and plays, exercise classes and educational seminars.

“Our members are able to remain in their homes, where they want to be, and that’s exactly why they chose our program,” Executive Director Barbara Mason says. “Helping members connect to meaningful and enjoyable activities can contribute to their quality of life and their contentment level.”

In July, members visited the Musical Instrument Museum and experienced many different types of music and instruments. The group also attended Arizona Broadway Theatre, alongside residents of Grandview Terrace, a Sun Health Senior Living community, and enjoyed an indoor carnival in August.

Sun Health at Home members can also benefit from educational opportunities. Earlier this year, the group learned about de-cluttering to make their homes safer and visited the Banner Sun Health Research Institute to learn about current trends in aging research. This month, they will learn about talking with their doctor.

“We know that when we stop learning, we stop growing,” Barbara says. “Our team is here to support them in reaching their goals.”

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