New findings from leading health and well-being company Humana Inc. show that nearly one-third (31 percent) of Americans aged 65 and older say they don’t feel socially engaged. However, a majority of respondents say it is important to establish social connections, including friendships (85 percent), companionships (61 percent) and romantic relationships (22 percent).
These data underscore the importance of focusing on seniors’ ability to connect with others, given the pervasiveness of social isolation. To address this need, Humana also announced today a new series of programming and events to help aging Americans embrace a healthy lifestyle. The events, offered in celebration of Active Aging Week (Sept. 23-29) and in partnership with SilverSneakers® nationwide, are designed to empower seniors to use the gym to strengthen both physical and social health, two important attributes for healthy aging. Active Aging Week celebrates the positivity of aging today by encouraging older adults to experience wellness activities and exercise in a safe and supportive environment, such as a gym tailored to aging Americans’ needs.
The survey also shows that the gym is a potential venue to establish new social connections, with 22 percent of survey respondents already going to the gym on a regular basis. While only 13 percent of survey respondents are currently using the gym as a place to make new social connections, 54 percent of single seniors actually indicate interest in meeting people there. This concept correlates with trends from younger generations, who are so comfortable with the concept that there is a collection of mobile apps to help foster social connections through fitness.
“Healthy aging is a group activity,” said Dr. Meredith Williams, Lead Medical Director at Humana. “Social isolation and loneliness can often impact health as much as physical attributes, which is why we want to inspire seniors to focus on whole-person health. Going to the gym is great but going with a friend can have even larger health benefits, given the social impact.”
“Social isolation has a measurable impact on physical and mental health, and older adults are often uniquely affected due to the loss of a spouse, adult children moving away, lack of transportation and a host of other reasons,” said Steve Janicak, Chief Growth Officer, Tivity Health. “Our SilverSneakers members thrive on the social connections they make through the program. We’re excited to partner with Humana during Active Aging Week to promote the social and physical benefits of exercise to more seniors.”
Humana’s Active Aging Week programming includes group wellness activities in locations across the country designed to create an environment for socializing while pursuing an active lifestyle. Events include outdoor classes, cooking demonstrations, free guest days and a special “Stoplight Social” for meeting new friends – or even someone special – by wearing green, yellow or red accessories to indicate willingness to make new connections.