Healthy ageing involves several well-known factors, such as regular exercise, a balanced diet, and quality sleep of 7-8 hours per night, which are crucial throughout one’s life. In addition, for older adults, having a supportive circle of friends can also play a role in living a longer and healthier life.
Imagine if you could add 2 to 15 healthy years to your lifespan. Would you, do it? What if it was as simple as sharing meals with a friend, joining a club, finding a walking buddy, or being around like-minded people?
As we age, social connections and friendships become increasingly essential to enhance our quality of life and impact our overall health, well-being, and longevity.
In older adults, friendships can boost happiness and improve health in numerous ways, including encouraging them to maintain healthy habits, reducing stress levels, increasing cognitive stimulation, enhancing the sense of purpose, and reducing the risk of depression and cognitive decline.
Being surrounded by friends can motivate you to stay on top of your health screenings and other self-care practices, leading to better physical and mental health. In contrast, isolated older adults are at higher risk of living sedentary lives and developing health issues like diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and depression.
Here are some ways friendship can enhance your happiness and health as you age:
Friendships Increase Mental Acuity
Keeping our brains healthy and strong is as important as taking care of our physical health, and regular exercise is crucial. In addition to physical exercise, our minds also require regular stimulation to maintain optimal cognitive function. This is where friendships come in – they can play a significant role in keeping our minds active and engaged.
Engaging in activities like learning a new hobby together, playing games such as chess or cards, or even having intellectually stimulating conversations with friends can help flex our mental muscles and enhance our cognitive health and memory function. These activities can also be enjoyable and fulfilling, providing satisfaction and accomplishment.
Friendships Motivate You to Adopt Healthy Habits
Having supportive friends can make all the difference when it comes to maintaining healthy habits. Our friends can motivate us to adopt healthier routines, such as attending a weekly yoga class, going for daily walks, or making better food choices. Furthermore, friends can help keep us accountable once we establish these habits.
Caring about each other’s well-being is a hallmark of strong friendships. Friends are often more attuned to changes in our health and behaviour than our families. They may notice concerns like hearing or weight loss and encourage us to seek medical advice. Having friends attuned to our health can be especially important as we age and face a greater risk of health challenges.
Friendships Fend Off Loneliness and Depression
Being socially isolated can harm your health, such as an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and accelerated cognitive decline. The lack of social relationships can be as much of a risk factor for mortality as smoking or obesity. Therefore, taking steps to connect with others and combat social isolation is crucial.
One of the most apparent benefits of senior friendships is their ability to alleviate loneliness, isolation, and depression. As we age, our friends can provide much-needed emotional support and a sense of belonging during life’s challenges. Seniors who lack social relationships are more susceptible to declining mental and emotional health. At the same time, those with close personal relationships and simple social bonds tend to be happier and more resilient.
Friendships Make You Happy
Sharing a good laugh with friends can be a great tonic for our well-being. Scientific research has demonstrated that laughter can stimulate the immune system, producing more infection-fighting antibodies and increasing dopamine levels, reducing stress and anxiety. Moreover, laughter triggers the release of endorphins, which can alleviate pain and inflammation while also helping to lower blood pressure. For seniors with respiratory problems like asthma, bronchitis, or COPD, laughing with friends can boost respiratory health.
Friendships Can Help You Live Longer
Seniors experiencing loneliness and social isolation face more than just emotional challenges. Studies show they are at increased risk of developing severe medical conditions such as hypertension, heart disease, and diabetes. This risk is greater than for those who maintain active social connections. Furthermore, social isolation can hinder the body’s immune system, making it more difficult to fight off infections. Social contact has been identified as a powerful predictor of longevity, with potential benefits to lifespan ranging from 2-15 years.
Having good friends around is crucial for the healthy ageing of elders, as highlighted by the reasons above. Anvayaa senior care services, a leading provider of elder care services in India, recognizes the importance of companionship in old age. Our main goal is to allow elders to meet new friends and connect with people who share their interests. Even if your elders are shy, our caregivers are here to be their best friends and help them overcome any barriers to socializing. Do not hesitate to contact us and give your elders the gift of a happy old age.
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