With the holidays quickly approaching and the colder weather here to say, it’s important to make sure the older adults in your life are still socializing.

“One of the things we learned during the pandemic is that social isolation is a really big problem, and it’s probably one of the most recognized contributors to mental health issues now in the United States. For older individuals, it’s a bigger deal,” said Dr. Ronan Factora with the Cleveland Clinic.

Factora says loneliness can be a precursor for depression, so getting the chance to socialize with others can help improve a person’s mood. It can also be beneficial to their cognition and physical health.

He says it is OK to be sedentary once in a while, but if it is happening consistently, it can have negative effects. For example, it can impact your blood pressure, cholesterol, and sugar levels.

How can you encourage older adults to socialize? Factora says you could always go to their home to visit and ask them to go on a walk or make them a meal. Many communities also offer activities and programs they could attend.

“You have to be willing to take the risk to do something different than what you’re used to to help increase the chances you won’t be isolated. And those opportunities, if they’re brand new and people you don’t know, you can look at it as an opportunity to make new connections, meet new people,” Factora said.

Factora says older adults who may already be experiencing feelings of depression should speak with their doctor, who can offer different treatment options.