Why a Family Support System is Important for the Elderly

As people age, having a family support system is crucial for the elderly. A support system provides a social network, helps improve their loved one’s health, and can even extend their life compared to older adults without any friends or family. Let’s take a look at why a family support system is beneficial for the elderly.

A Direct Connection Between Family and Health

A United States Aging Survey found that 30 percent of seniors believe staying connected to family and friends is a main concern. The survey found that most seniors believe that maintaining relationships with family and friends is more important than having financial support. Aside from older adults’ views, studies have shown a direct connection between an older adult’s health and their relationship with family. Indeed, family is important for the elderly’s mental, physical, and social health.

What Are the Benefits of a Family Support System for the Elderly?

1. Longer Life Expectancy

When older adults maintain social connections with their family members, this can increase their life expectancy compared to those that are socially isolated. It may not be an obvious benefit, but a family’s presence can improve their overall health in their remaining years. This is also true for those with dementia.

2. Stronger Immune System

Older adults that have a family support system and regularly connect with others typically have stronger immune systems. This is a major benefit, especially since older adults tend to have weaker immune systems as they age. In turn, a healthier immune system will be better equipped to fight off illnesses that older adults come in contact with.

3. Better Mental Health

Another benefit for seniors that stay close with family is having improved mental health compared to those that aren’t close to loved ones. It’s important for older adults to socialize with their family and to be reminded that they are loved and valued. This can help seniors be less likely to suffer from mental illnesses like depression.

4. Better Brain Health

Older adults who stay socially connected also benefit from having higher levels of cognitive function. Studies have shown that those that enjoyed participating in social activities were more likely to have better memory and thinking skills. On the other hand, older adults that did not enjoy socializing experienced a decrease in their cognitive health.

5. A Family Support System

Like any family, the type of support and interactions change overtime. A parent that once supported and took care of their child will eventually have the roles reversed as the adult child cares for and supports the aging parent. This is a normal part of life. 

For many aging parents, financial support is necessary to receive the medical care required as they age. When their family is able to offer this support, this can melt away some of the stress that an older adult may feel. This is important, especially when stress can weaken an older adult’s already weakened immune system. 

Additionally, emotional support is another major benefit of having a support system. It helps to have someone to talk to and listen to them about their good and bad days. This shows them that their family cares, which can have a positive impact on their outlook on life. 

Another type of support is to help older adults perform daily activities, such as cleaning their house, going shopping, or even cooking. If an older adult has a bigger family, the family can take turns helping the older adult out. These simple acts can make a big difference in helping seniors not feel alone.

6. Friendships Are Important Too

Since not every older adult has family near them, they can still benefit from social connections and support from old and new friends. Studies have shown that having strong social connections has a positive benefit to seniors’ health, whether that is with friends or family. 

If an older adult wants to make new friends, there are quite a few tips to achieve this great goal. Older adults can visit their local pool, volunteer at a local organization, take a community class for seniors, or join a gym. There are plenty of options to discover new friendships and stay connected with others. 

We hope this article was helpful, especially if you have an older adult in your life. A family support system isn’t just beneficial, it’s crucial for the elderly’s mental, physical, and emotional health and well-being. For those that do not have nearby family, a close group of friends can still provide the same benefits. Contact Liberty HomeCare and Hospice Services today to learn more about our home care, hospice care, and palliative care designed to help your loved one’s achieve their highest quality of life in the place they love – their homes.