If you could add 2 to 15 healthy years to your life, would you do it? What if it was as simple as sharing meals with a friend, joining a club, finding a walking buddy, and surrounding yourself with likeminded people?
As we age, friendships and social connections become more important than ever. And not just for their ability to improve the quality of our lives, but for the vital impact they have on our overall health, well-being and longevity.
5 Ways Senior Friendships Promote Healthy Aging
Connecting with people socially and personally doesn’t just feel good, it is good. Here are 5 ways that senior friendships promote a long, healthy life.
Probably the most obvious health benefit of senior friendships is their ability to ease loneliness, isolation and depression. As we age, our friends provide much needed emotional support, as well as a sense of belonging through life’s challenges. Seniors who lack social relationships are more prone to a decline in mental and emotional health, while those with close personal relationships and simple social bonds tend to be happier and more resilient.
Improve Physical Health
For seniors, loneliness is much more than just feeling sad and isolated. Numerous studies and research have shown that socially-isolated seniors suffer from medical conditions, such as hypertension, heart disease and diabetes, at a higher rate than those seniors who maintain active friendships. Social isolation has also been shown to inhibit the body’s ability to fight infection. In fact, it’s now believed that social contact is a powerful predictor of longevity, offering a lifespan advantage of 2-15 years.
Increase Mental Acuity
Our brains, like our bodies, need to be exercised regularly to stay healthy and strong. And friends play an important role in keeping our minds active. Something as simple as learning a new hobby together, or playing cards, chess or other games, helps flex those mental muscles, and can have a major impact on cognitive health and memory function.
We always laugh more when we’re with friends, and laughter just might be the best medicine. Laughing has been proven to increase immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, as well as levels of dopamine, helping to reduce stress and anxiety. It releases endorphins, minimizing pain and inflammation, and lowers blood pressure. For seniors who suffer with asthma, bronchitis or COPD, laughing can even help improve respiratory health.
Encourage Healthy Habits
Friends often motivate us to adopt healthy habits – like joining a weekly yoga class, going for daily walks, or making healthier food choices – and then they continue to hold us accountable for maintaining these routines. Friends also care about our well-being. They tend to notice changes in our health, and are often more likely than family to point out concerns, such as hearing loss or weight loss, and encourage us to seek medical advice.
Making New Connections
As we age, our friends have a bigger impact on our health and well-being. Perhaps even more so than family, who tend to take on more of caregiver role. Yet creating and sustaining friendships at this stage in life can bit a bit more challenging. As a result, many active older adults are turning to senior living communities for the chance to connect with likeminded individuals.
If you’re looking to meet other active seniors like you, we invite you to take a look at Eddy Senior Living. We have five independent senior living communities in Troy, Slingerlands, Niskayuna, East Greenbush and Queensbury. To schedule a tour, call (877) 748-3339 or contact us online. You can also learn about the many ways senior living communities help foster friendships, and hear real-life stories from actual residents, in this blog post on Friendship in Senior Living Communities.