Building Bonds for Better Health: Social Connections for Senior Well-Being 

When you think of community, do you think of a local gardening club, game night at a community center, or a sunny park filled with people? These aren’t just sweet moments to picture – they’re examples of connections that are vital to seniors’ mental and physical health. 

Factors like living alone or managing a chronic illness put older adults at an increased risk of loneliness. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), nearly one in four adults over 65 are considered socially isolated, which puts them at higher risk for developing health issues. When you consider that social isolation increases the risk of dementia by 50% and heart disease and stroke by roughly 30%, it’s clear that meaningful connection is more than a nice-to-have. 

As we get older, it’s more challenging to get out of the house, and losing interest in staying active and being part of a community is natural. Fortunately, there are options available to seniors who want to improve their socialization and form meaningful connections. 

  • Community center activities. Local community centers offer activities such as board games, bingo, and arts and crafts. These events are offered in a shared space, and materials are supplied so you can just show up and enjoy your hobbies. 
  • Local, interest-focused clubs. Connecting is easier when it starts over a common interest. Gardening groups, book clubs, cooking classes, and more may already be established in your local area or could be available through online settings and group video calls.
  • Exercise classes and walking groups. Getting active is a great way to improve your physical and mental health. Check out your local fitness center’s class schedule to see what activities are offered in a group format. Or consider joining a walking group, get some fresh air, and enjoy chatting with new friends while you walk. 
  • Phone and video calls with friends and family. If commuting to a group or class isn’t an option, or if you prefer to be at home, try to arrange regular phone calls with family members and friends. Having a regularly scheduled call helps to establish a routine and provides something to look forward to! 
  • In-person and virtual group outings. Consider exploring your city and beyond through tour guides and travel groups. Many companies offer in-person outings geared toward senior needs or virtual groups for live exploration from the comfort of your own home. There are also many free, virtual options, such as the always-available Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History virtual tours ( or World Virtual Tours, which will take you along on scheduled tours of modern locations and ancient ruins with live narrations by archeologists and licensed guides (  

Making social connections is key to strengthening mental and physical well-being at any age, and it’s also a fun way to practice wellness. It’s important to try new experiences and continue to nurture our natural curiosity to learn and explore. And you’ll likely find connections with others who are on the same journey!