Here at Volunteering in Health we do many social drives as well as medical. One big project is the monthly ‘Drive n Dine’ event at the Alice Cross Centre. This project involves people being picked up from their home, allowing people with poor mobility to be able to get out and meet people without the expense of a taxi. The clients get dropped off at the Alice Cross Centre where they have a 2 course meal and entertainment. We help at events like this because Loneliness has been linked to cognitive decline.
To us, our social drives are just as important as our medical drives. Many studies show that social interaction can make older people mentally and physically healthier. Social isolation frequently leads to depression and a myriad of other mental health issues like anxiety that increase the amount of extra support seniors need. By just taking someone to the ‘Drive n Dine’ event once a month you can help lower their chances of dementia and depression. This will also give them something to look forward to. This lowers the strain on the NHS as they will be healthier and in this weather it is important to keep everyone warm and healthy, older people with no social interaction are four times more likely to come down with cold symptoms than those with lots of social contacts.
Another plus side to social activities is that it has the potential to lower blood pressure and reduce their risk of cardiovascular problems and various forms of arthritis. This is usually because those who are socially engaged are also more physically active and are more likely to maintain a nutritious diet. Social activities can also help people reduce stress and anxiety, which is what ultimately, leads to lower blood pressure levels.
While lowering the risk of many physical problems, it also gives them the confidence they need to be able to get back in to making new friends.
The Alzheimer’s Society noted that remaining socially active may improve sleep quality as well. This is important, as getting a good night’s rest is key to avoiding conditions like depression and anxiety, which people with dementia tend to be more vulnerable to.
If you would like to come along to any of our social events, would like a befriender, or could volunteer as a driver or befriender, please get in touch!