Monday, December 15, 2014

Are Social Groups Important?

Are Social Groups Important?

Social relationships are often described as the building blocks of society. They are important for a variety of reasons. From acquaintances to friendship and deep intimate relationships, the connections we make with other people are important.

Having relationships with social groups give a lot of meaning to a person's life. Social groups provide a system of support, acceptance and community.
Without social groups, individuals may feel lonely, depressed, or disconnected with society. Individuals may miss out on opportunities to meet other like-minded people who share common interests. They may also miss the opportunity to create a deeper, more intimate relationship.

Friendships as a Social Group
There are a variety of social groups, such as groups of friends or clubs and organizations. Friends provide close relationships with a small group of individuals. Friendships are the most common social group. Scientific studies have shown that the desire for friendships begins at a very early age. Children naturally will form own relationships with other children.
Clubs and Organizations as Social Groups
Other social groups such as clubs and organizations can provide a sense of mutual trust and friendship. These groups could include fraternal organizations, charity groups, or common interest groups. In these groups, individuals are connected by a shared cause or interest. They often have regular meetings where they can meet and converse with other members.
Work Environment and Social Groups
Work environments are another social community. Because of the closely shared space, individuals are apt to create relationships and social groups amongst themselves. Coworkers may form a social groups around connected conversation, work-related projects, or shared interests.

The benefits of being social

Specific health benefits of social interaction in older adults include:
·         Potentially reduced risk for cardiovascular problems, some cancers, osteoporosis, and rheumatoid arthritis
·         Potentially reduced risk for Alzheimer's disease
·         Lower blood pressure
·         Reduced risk for mental health issues such as depression
Conversely, social isolation carries real risks. Some of these risks are:
·         Feeling lonely and depressed
·         Being less physically active
·         Having a greater risk of death
·         Having high blood pressure
Social interaction helps keep your brain from getting rusty, but it's most effective when coupled with an overall healthy lifestyle, including a nutritious diet and physical activity.

Keeping your connections strong

Start by staying in touch with friends and family, and try to visit with them regularly. Here are other ways you can maintain a high level of social interaction:
·         Volunteer in your community.
·         Visit a senior center and participate in offered activities with other seniors—this is a great way to make new friends.
·         Join a group focused on activities you enjoy, such as playing cards or a book club.
·         Try taking a class—learn a new language or a new style of cooking or experiment with a new hobby.
·         Join a gym or fitness center to stay physically fit and engage with others.
Find ways to stay young at heart, stimulated, busy—and out of the house. Schedule regular visits with grandkids or volunteer at a school or children's organization to enjoy time with little ones and absorb some of their youthful energy.
Although staying in touch in person is important, phone calls, snail mail, and e-mail can keep you connected, too—if you're not yet comfortable with computers, ask a young relative to help you.
Staying socially active and maintaining your relationships are an important part of healthy aging. Reach out to your loved ones—neighbors, friends, family members—and stay as vibrant, active, and social as you've always been.

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