Seniors Need Social Relationships

May 4th, 2020 | By | Category: Senior Moments Blog

Why Seniors Need Others

Seniors, indeed all human beings, need social relationships to remain healthy emotionally as well as physically. We know that anecdotally, and research has also shown that to be the case. When social needs are not satisfied, both mental and physical health problems result. As the senior population increases, the need for us to be healthy and enjoy life also increases.

Researchgate.net found there are four themes in studies of seniors and their social needs: diversity, proximity, meaning of the relationship and reciprocity. So what are those four themes?

Four Themes in Senior Social Needs Studies

Diversity: This study found that social needs of older people are diverse. They focus on both the intimate and the peripheral members of their networks. We have long known that we human have a small group of intimate friendships; emotionally, we just can’t handle a crowd of people on an intimate level. And the ‘crowd’ of friends is in an outer circle (peripheral) in our network; they are equally important because the stimulation offered in the diversity of people in that outer circle is an important criterion for a satisfied life. We need both close friends and social friends.

Proximity: We seniors need to have friends and social relationships with people physically near to us. As we age, our ability and desire to move around a lot diminishes (and that degree also varies among seniors). We may have neither desire nor ability to visit friends and family in the next village or state or country. We needs to have our social network close to us.

Meaning of the Relationship: This theme is self-explanatory; the relationship has to be meaningful, that is healthy senior relationships have history, shared experiences and emotional connectedness. These qualities develop in a senior over time and become very meaningful for those involved.

Reciprocity: When satisfying social needs, reciprocity is important. The relationship has to be a two-way street in order for healthy interaction to follow. The critical quality in that is ‘healthy’.

The study cited here suggests that “…staying active by doing volunteer work or participating in (leisure) social activities satisfies social needs.” We seniors need to ensure we remain connected to our friends and social networks, participate in activities and groups that interest us, and remain as independent as we are able given our physical and health circumstances. Some of us may need help achieving these goals. We may need to ask for help.



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