Friendships add richness to life. Our companions celebrate with us when times are good and support us when we need a lift. Friends share secrets, much laughter, and create great memories together.
But friendships are more than just fun.
They are also essential.
Friends may increase in value, according to those aged 65 and older. When asked to rank the importance between family ties and friendships over time, studies have found the significance of family connections retained the same ranking while friendships were valued higher than when the respondents were younger.
Although friends play a strong role in our ability to age well, they can be more difficult to keep or create as our social circles often begin to shrink.
Why? Dear friends may be lost, move away, or no longer stay in touch as other life responsibilities take precedence. Health or mobility issues may also make it more difficult to get together.
But the advantages of friendships make them critical to pursue when you consider the contributions they make to quality of life.
Studies have shown that friendships greatly support our ability to age and live well. Consider these features that benefit your health and happiness:
Older adults without friends or who often feel lonely may find themselves at the same health risk as someone who smokes, is obese, or is physically inactive. There may also be a 50% increased risk of developing dementia.
Friends can support you to live a full life and provide the value of knowing there is someone who cares – and is there for you.
We need to feel connected to others and our friendships help us bridge that gap. Studies have revealed we crave interactions if we’ve been isolated and we feel the pain of being socially excluded in the same region of the brain where we experience physical pain.
Having friends provides a feeling of being accepted and fitting in, which can boost our mood and the way we see ourselves.
Loneliness or having no quality relationships can result in an increased risk of heart disease and stroke, as well as higher rates of depression and anxiety.
Having friends can also promote our ability to build a stronger immune system and lower our stress. Additional benefits? Quality friendships can provide a positive influence as well as help us abandon bad habits and maintain healthy ones.
Friends can multiply your happiness and divide your sorrow. Receiving good news or accomplishing a long-sought-after goal feels that much better when you can share it with a friend.
Maybe more important is the support you receive when times are difficult as a friend helps shoulder the weight and lets you know you’re not alone.
Those who maintain strong connections with their family and friends may experience increased longevity when compared to those with fewer ties.
The health benefits of remaining connected include lower levels of stress that affect coronary arteries, insulin regulation, and the immune system. Friendships and the subsequent nurturing interactions may also trigger the release of stress-reducing hormones.
The quality of your friendships is much more important than the quantity. Consider these suggestions when looking for opportunities to develop genuine relationships:
Whether you’re making new connections or enjoying your old friends, you need to make them a priority. Friendships are often neglected. Make sure to schedule a time to see and value your companions.
The best place to make new friends is to go where people gather. Consider activities that you enjoy or have an interest in. Volunteer with an organization or advocacy group you support. Having similar interests makes it easier to connect.
When you meet someone you’d like to be friends with, reach out. Call to suggest meeting for coffee or lunch. Let people know you’re interested in getting to know them better. We often wait for others to take the first step but they may be doing the same.
Friends often drift away as life pulls us in different directions. Think back to those you enjoyed working with, an old neighbor or the person with a great sense of humor. Pick up the phone and make the effort to rekindle the relationship.
Online friendships can be just as nurturing. Explore opportunities with different social media and consider joining a Facebook group. You can also tap the Internet to initiate in-person connections such as Meetup.com to find others locally who are interested in similar activities.
Considering life in an independent living community? One of the best benefits is how simple it can be to meet and make new friends.
The social events and activities make it easy to get to know your neighbors and the other residents. The opportunities to discover how much you have in common will quickly help you begin forming what may soon become life-long friendships.
If you’re considering an independent living community to help reach your goals of aging and living well, we hope you will visit one of our Ingleside communities. You’ll discover many new friends that share your life experiences.
We believe you’ll find it’s even easier to live an enriched life when you take advantage of all the benefits we offer, including:
Our compassionate staff, residences, programs, dining and activities are all designed to provide our residents and your loved one with the highest level of care, independence and dignity.
For information on Ingleside at Rock Creek senior living community located in Washington, DC, please call (202) 846-2651 with questions or to schedule a personalized tour today.
For information on Ingleside’s Westminster at Lake Ridge senior living community located in Lake Ridge, Virginia, please call (703) 420-7105 with questions or to schedule a personalized tour today.
For information on Ingleside at King Farm senior living community located in Rockville, Maryland, please call (240) 414-8557 with questions or to schedule a personalized tour today.