We do not suddenly stop growing mentally or physically at some point in our lives, aging is a continuous process from start to finish

Here at Northside we understand that as you age you may not feel as energetic and outgoing as you once did but it is still important to maintain social relationships and partake in social activities. As you get older you may experience many physical changes as well as social changes that may drastically influence your overall health and well-being. Once all your children leave the nest or you have fully transitioned from full time work to retirement you tend to miss out on a lot of opportunities for social interaction. Many people consider themselves fully grown adults once they hit their 30s but the truth is that we never really stop growing and changing. We do not suddenly stop growing mentally or physically at some point in our lives, aging is a continuous process from start to finish. Just like when we were children or teenages, older aged individuals must remain socially active by participating in meaningful social activities and maintain close relationships with others.

As you get older you may experience many physical changes as well as social changes that may drastically influence your overall health and well-being.

The Study of Aging

Gerontology is a field of social science that looks at the physical, psychological and cognitive aspects of what could be considered “successful ageing”. Gerontology considers the mental, social, biological and psychological changes that encompass the aging processes that occur throughout one’s life. Activity Theory is a long standing psychological theory that current gerontologists look at closely when considering “successful aging”. This theory suggests that to facilitate positive well-being, older individuals must make sure to continue participating in social and leisure activities as well as replacing any roles that may have been relinquished over the course of their lives such as being a primary carer. After committing eight or more hours of every weekday to working or raising children we become accustomed to such a lifestyle. If you suddenly stop engaging in such activities it becomes important to make sure you continue to pick up engaging and meaningful activities you can pursue to keep socially active and form new relationships.

The Impacts of Social Change

When social changes are not correctly dealt with through support then it can contribute to a number of harmful health issues and reduce overall psychological and physical well-being. If experiencing social isolation for long periods of time, older individuals, just like everyone else, will be at risk of developing depression, stress and anxiety problems. Just because you have retired or lost your spouse does not mean you are past the point of requiring social interactions and activities whenever possible. If you find yourself much more isolated and lacking the same social engagement you once had then you may be at risk of developing a multitude of problems:
> Isolation can lead to depression and anxiety developing which can lead to more complicated mental health issues such as suicide.
> By remaining at home and not participating in social activities whenever possible you are reducing the amount of physical exercise you get and increasing the chances of developing cardiovascular problems such as high blood pressure.
> Reduce mental stimulation and increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and mental fatigue.

If experiencing social isolation for long periods of time, older individuals, just like everyone else, will be at risk of developing depression, stress and anxiety problems.

Dealing with Social Change

The best way to deal with social changes that occur throughout your life is to make sure that you replace social activities such as going to work or raising your kids with new activities that engage you just as well. It is pretty obvious that most people will choose to have engaging social encounters and activities with friends than to isolate themselves from others. Generally the largest problem to overcome social changes is that the support you may need is not readily available to you to avoid such isolation. We understand that friends and family may be under certain circumstances which can make providing social support extremely difficult. That is why it is important to make use of any community based social support that may be available to you.

Here at Northside, we arrange a large variety of fun and meaningful social activities for older individuals to enjoy and build relationships with like-minded individuals. Social activities we offer are meaningful, engaging and most importantly, fun. These range from simple and relaxing movies and art gallery viewings to helpful classes on social media and computing with others that can help you communicate better over the internet with your loved ones. These activities will help deal with the problems that arise from drastic social changes that occur in older age and help you to continue on the path of “successful ageing”. Through these activities you can build new relationships, form meaningful connections, achieve a sense of accomplishment and stimulate your body and mind. These all can help contribute to positive psychological and physical well-being and combat problems such as anxiety, loneliness, stress, depression and of course, help you remain psychically active.

By John Jeffery

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