7 Obstacles to Senior Socialization

Seniors benefit extensively, on several fronts, through regular socializing. Unfortunately, many people over the age of 65 cannot fully realize the benefits of socializing with others because of obstacles that can exist to senior socialization. The seven most prevalent obstacles to senior socialization are:

  • Loss of spouse
  • Loss of friends and other loved ones
  • Physical ailments
  • Real or perceived cognitive decline
  • Mobility issues
  • Lack of family support
  • Low self-esteem

We take a moment in this article to discuss these senior socialization obstacles. Before doing that, we note 10 of the key benefits to be realized when a person over the age of 65 can socialize consistently.

10 Top Benefits of Senior Socialization

The ten key benefits of senior socialization are worth mentioning. There may be some items on this list that you previously had not thought about. These benefits of senior socialization are:

  • Maintain emotional wellbeing
  • Maintain purposeful living
  • Increase self-confidence
  • Develop close relationships
  • Be part of something greater
  • Try new things
  • Better cope with personal issues
  • Delay onset of dementia
  • Share your knowledge and talents
  • Improve overall quality of life

Now let’s take a look at obstacles that can exist preventing a senior from enjoying the full benefits of regular socialization.

Loss of Spouse

Losing a spouse often proves to be the most cataclysmic event in a person’s life. The death of a spouse could upend the surviving spouse’s life.

Time and time again, when a person loses his or her spouse, there is a companion loss of motivation or interest in socializing. The odds are that the friends maintained by partners in marriage were friends of both spouses. It’s also likely that most of a couple’s friends are also couples. Perhaps most of these other couples remain intake with spouses still living.

The point is that when a spouse dies, the surviving spouse might feel reluctant to get back out and about with an existing circle of friends. This sense of reluctance can be magnified if a surviving spouse is somewhat shy or not used to doing things independently.

Loss of Friends and Other Loved Ones

Many develop a circle of friends with whom they maintain connections for years. As people enter their senior years, the laws of nature take effect, and people begin to pass away. As friends and loved ones begin to die, those still living witness the shrinking of their circle of friends.

Often, older people are unsure how to meet new people to add to their friendship circle. As a consequence, they end up having fewer opportunities to socialize.

Physical Ailments

Physical ailments can significantly impact an older individual’s ability or desire to socialize. A senior might lack the physical wherewithal to socialize (at least to the extent of what he or she did in the past). When a person lacks the physical capacity to socialize regularly in a manner consistent with the past, that individual can end up not engaging with people in person as much as he or she did in years gone by.

Real or Perceived Cognitive Decline

One of the signs of the earlier stages of cognitive decline is avoiding socializing. This occurs because a person beginning to experience cognitive decline feels that he or she cannot appropriately keep up with what is happening around them.

There are also instances in which a senior stops socializing regularly when that person perceives that he or she is experiencing cognitive decline, even when that medically is not the case. People in this position perceive that they are having issues with memory and other cognitive matters. Even though this is misplaced thinking, they feel it is better to avoid social settings for the same reasons a person with cognitive issues espouses.

Mobility Issues

Mobility issues of two types can make it challenging for a senior to engage socially. First, a senior might have physical issues that impede their ability to get out and socialize with others. Second, a senior may no longer drive, which can also impact that individual’s ability to socialize with other people.

Lack of Family Support

A number of the impediments to socialization discussed in this article can be overcome if a senior has a supportive family. Sadly, not all older individuals do have a supportive family. This can be the case for a variety of reasons. These can include the fact that a family does not live near the older individual. Family members with home a senior was close have died. There may be conflict within the family which, while sad, happens with regularity.

Low Self-Esteem

A person’s self-esteem can take a battering at any juncture in life. The risk of experiencing low self-esteem can peak when an individual is in his or her senior years. This can occur for a variety of reasons. These can include a lack of self-esteem because a senior has come to believe that he or she lacks the level of independence experienced when that person was younger.

A senior not socializing regularly because of low self-esteem is caught in a vicious circle. Socializing is demonstrated to be a way in which a senior can build his or her self-esteem. Thus, limiting socialization can result in a senior losing the chance to develop his or her self-esteem.

As a final note, family and friends of a senior who appears to be faced with a socialization obstacle can be helpful to an older person. Friends and family can provide encouragement, support, and other forms of assistance that can aid a senior in overcoming an obstacle to socialization. Consequently, a senior will be in a position to take advantage of the important benefits of remaining socially active.