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18Mar

Friendships: Making Us Young at Heart

Humans naturally crave social interaction. In fact, we’re designed for relationship. The creation story tells of God forming Adam and declaring, “It is not good for the man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18) right before crafting Eve as a partner.

All these years later, research from around the world continues to shine a light on human relationships and how they’re reliable predictors of a long, healthy, and satisfying life.

While periodic social interactions can have a powerful effect, stable friendships can transform our lives. These relationships make us happier, healthier, and may even extend our lives. What’s more, people can build these life-giving close friendships at any age.

Senior Friendships Improve Our Mental and Emotional Wellbeing

Having trusted confidants and close friends helps people to feel more satisfied with their lives, and in turn, makes them less likely to suffer from depression. The sense of camaraderie and mutual support offered by friends instill a sense of purpose and belonging, enriching the fabric of life in later years.

Sometimes peer-pressure is a good thing. Friends help one another in many ways that can ultimately lead to a more satisfying life, such as:

  • Establishing healthy habits, like meeting up for a walk.
  • Accountability to give up unhealthy behaviors, such as smoking.
  • Helping each other to cope with traumas, like job loss, death of a loved one, or serious illness.

Senior Friendships Strengthen the Immune System

Socializing bolsters the immune system, making individuals more resilient to illnesses and infections. Research shows that people who are lonely have a less effective immune response and higher levels of inflammation than non-lonely people. In fact, loneliness triggers a stress response in the body, which reduces the production of certain white blood cells that are essential for fighting infection.

The emotional support provided by friendships can alleviate stress and counteract the effects of loneliness, thereby increasing disease-fighting white blood cells and reducing inflammation in the body to help lower the risk of sickness and chronic diseases.

Senior Friendships Promote Heart Health

The sense of belonging derived from friendships fosters a supportive environment which can bolster heart health. A National Institutes of Health (NIH) study reveals lonely people are 29% more likely to develop heart disease and 32% more likely to have a stroke as compared to those who maintain strong social ties. Engaging in social activities with friends lowers blood pressure, promotes relaxation, and reduces the strain on the heart.

Senior Friendships Sharpen Memory and Cognitive Function

In addition to its physical and emotional benefits, socializing has a profound impact on cognitive function, particularly in older adults. One large-scale study found that frequent social activity reduces cognitive decline by an average of 70%!

Meaningful interactions stimulate the brain, keeping it active and agile. Engaging in conversations, reminiscing about shared experiences, and participating in intellectually stimulating activities help sharpen memory and cognitive skills.

Senior Friendships Promote Longevity

Friendships not only add life to our years, they can literally add years to our lives. A meta-analysis out of Brigham Young University found that loneliness can be as deadly as obesity, physical inactivity, and smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day. The same researchers learned that strong social connections increase a person’s likelihood of survival by 50%!

Friendships at Chapel Pointe

Despite knowing the benefits of good relationships, building close friendships takes time and is often easier said than done.

Many people ask how to make friends as an adult. It’s easiest to connect with others when we share something in common. Great opportunities to build friendships include at church, in hobby or book clubs, through volunteering or charity events, during group trips, or by taking a class to learn something new. Moving to a senior living community, like Chapel Pointe, can offer many of these opportunities under one roof.

Chapel Pointe is a faith-based continuing care retirement community committed to enhancing the quality of life for people aged 62+ in Central Pennsylvania and offering amenities and services to boost social interactions. We’re honored that our greater community sees the servant-heart of our nonprofit organization and consistently selects Chapel Pointe as “The Best of Cumberland County.”

Contact us to learn more about how Chapel Pointe can help you to live with purpose today, peace of mind for the future, and people who care every day.

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