Friends are essential at every stage of life, but as we age, it can be harder to sustain friendships. Assisted living communities provide an opportunity for residents to connect with others who share similar interests and experiences.
There are many benefits to having friends in assisted living. Friendships can help reduce stress, promote positive emotions, and improve overall mental and physical health. Additionally, friends can provide social support and companionship.
Making friends in assisted living can be easy. Most communities have many activities and events that residents can participate in. There are also usually common areas where residents can gather to socialize. Getting involved in activities and spending time in common areas is a great way to meet new people.
It’s important to remember that not all friendships will be equally strong. It’s okay to have different levels of friends, and it’s also okay to change friends over time. The most important thing is to enjoy the company of others and to find ways to connect with them. Assisted living can be a great place to make lasting friendships.
Seniors who are isolated from the people and sense of purpose that once fueled them are at risk of mental and emotional deterioration. They frequently don’t have adequate opportunities for human contact, since they’re unable to keep social, active, or happy. This can lead to a general feeling of loneliness and even depression if it isn’t addressed.
We all want to be a part of something, and as we age, it’s critical to take action now in order to build a healthy social life with friends. This might include making plans for joint dinners, spending time with neighbors, participating in local senior events, or doing whatever activities allow you (or the elderly person in your life) to connect with people around you.
The capacity of the brain to learn and grow was long thought to be hardwired and limited, yet new research on neuroplasticity suggests that the brain can actually alter, reorder, and create new pathways. This implies that human brains may change and stay alert far beyond their teenage years. However, in order to reap the full benefits of neuroplasticity, one must exercise their brain frequently.
This is one of the most important reasons why social interaction in older friendships is so essential for positive aging results. Seniors should maintain and strengthen relationships with individuals around them. Playing cards or starting a new pastime together can have a significant influence on cognitive health, especially when done frequently.
According to data, personal interactions and health are linked. For example, a comparative analysis of lonely and non-lonely seniors discovered that lonely individuals had an increased incidence of numerous medical problems, including hypertension, diabetes, and heart illnesses. And a University of Chicago research suggested that loneliness can significantly raise blood pressure in people over 40 years old by as much as 30 points.
Lonely individuals had altered monocytes, a white blood cell that helps defend the body against infection, according to another study from psychologist Steve Cole and experts from UCLA School of Medicine, University of California at Davis, and University of Chicago. Social isolation causes monocytes to stay immature, resulting in reduced immunity. Maintaining friendships that aid in preventing senior loneliness has significant physical health advantages.
Susan Pinker, a developmental psychologist and social neuroscience researcher, has observed a vital relationship between face-to-face contact and learning, finding happiness, perseverance, and longevity. Human beings are naturally inclined to interact with one another in any form of connection—whether it’s close personal relationships or simple social ties—she says. All these personal “villages” — family, friends, and community — come together to create a personalized “village” that we desperately need in order to thrive and survive.
Consider the following study, which looked at 4,000 women with breast cancer and examined all of their activities: the greatest predictor of survival over a ten-year period in this research was the size of these women’s in-person social networks. Furthermore, people who maintain an active in-person social circle have a 2 to 15 year longevity advantage. It has been argued that social interaction is a more significant health and longevity predictor than physical exercise or whether or not someone smokes. People who are lonely and isolated may find it difficult to make new friends and have the required social connections that promote longer, healthier lives.
“As we get older, the influence of our friends on our health and well-being rises increasingly, according to new research,” says AARP. Researchers led by William Chopik, an assistant professor of psychology at Michigan State University, looked at two studies with about 280,000 participants who were asked about their relationships, happiness, and health. “Valuing friendships was associated with better function in older people particularly; valuing familial connections had a steady impact on health and well-being throughout adulthood,” according to the first study.”
“The importance of friendship on physical and mental health is frequently neglected when researching older people, because family ties are typically regarded as more significant for this age group. However, family members often become caretakers for the elderly, and that duty might create a sense of obligation. While the relationships are important, Chopik claims they may not provide as much joy in an old person’s life as long-term friends.”
There’s something to be said for the notion that friendship has a sense of responsibility. When seniors spend time together, they may serve as an inspiration to one another by adopting more healthy diets and lifestyles. Physical activity, for example, can be a social pastime among pals, encouraging each participant to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Finally, friends are concerned about one another’s health, so they will be some of the most steadfast reminders of what has to be done to preserve it. This might range from scheduling essential medical appointments to keeping track of your nutrition or appropriately taking medicines. They can also let you know if you have any concerns about which you may not be aware (such as blurred vision or hearing loss), allowing you to give these matters the attention they require.
At a time when it might appear hard to form new friendships and nurture old ones, fostering an atmosphere that promotes these kinds of connections is critical for you (or the older in your life) to do. One of the many incentives to senior living communities is the plethora of community and socialization options just outside your door. Seniors are in a great position here at the Briarcliffe Preserve to connect, interact, and create relationships that nourish the soul.