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The Importance of Friendships in Old Age

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You may have heard the term BFF, best friends forever. That’s what friendships are—relationships you may have for your entire life. Friendships are life’s most valuable blessings, but they’re even more important in old age. 

If you are transitioning to a senior living community after retiring and worried about losing social connections, don’t be. The setup in senior living communities allows you to enjoy as much or as little time as you want to engage with new friends in enriching activities

We explore the importance of friendships in old age and how senior living communities foster social interaction. 

Why Is Having Friends so Important

Whether you are retired and living alone or newly widowed, it can be challenging to cope with these changes. The people we meet become an integral part of our life, and it’s no surprise that old age significantly impacts our friendships as they change over time.

Near the end of our lives, we can face a gradual decline in health and mobility, so our ability to go about life independently will become less frequent. However, in senior housing situations, this is where true friendships come into play.

Benefits of Friendships in Old Age

We need friends to enjoy some of the benefits associated with having them: supportive relationships, a broader range of experiences, and opportunities to remain active and involved in the community.

Friendships Lead to a Longer Life

Lack of social connections is associated with increased mortality. Living alone and feeling alone despite having a social network both negatively affect longevity. Social isolation risks include:

  • Increase the risk of coronary artery disease by 29%
  • Increase the risk of stroke by 32%
  • Increase the risk of developing dementia by 64%
  • Increase the risk of death by 26%

Conversely, people with satisfying friendships and meaningful social connections have fewer health problems and thus live longer. 

Friendships Reduce Loneliness

Unmet social needs and connections, such as not having friends, can lead to loneliness and social isolation. Studies have shown that the emotional support of friends is protective against depression. 

Friendships Reduce the Risk of Cognitive Decline

Engaging in social group activities or outings with friends may improve cognitive function. These social activities reduce the risk of cognitive decline and dementia. 

Other changes to your routine with friends can benefit your cognitive health. These include:

  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Exercise
  • Keeping your mind active
  • Managing stress
  • Staying remaining socially active 

Friendships Encourage Healthy Bodies and Minds

While you might think that familial relationships are more important in older people’s lives, they usually take on the role of caregivers. Friendships, however, are a stronger predictor of how healthy and happy older adults feel. 

Ways to Make Friends

It’s a common belief that it can be challenging to make new friends as a person grows older. Even more so, since the number of people tends to diminish with time. 

Yes, it may become harder to maintain friendships, especially if you have mobility issues or live alone. Moving to a senior living community allows you to continue your current friendships and make new friends. 

Senior living communities provide well-planned events and activities to encourage social interaction, foster connections, and build meaningful friendships with like-minded and active seniors:

  • Group activities, events, and outings 
  • A fitness center for staying active
  • A relaxing spa
  • A salon to keep you looking and feeling your best

Enjoying common interests with friends, participating in group fitness programs, and volunteering are ways friendships keep you active, engaged, and feeling a sense of purpose. They create accountability, and accountability leads to motivation and the adoption of healthier habits. 

Senior living communities take care of all the chores, maintenance, and stress, so seniors don’t have to. It frees up time for them to take up a new hobby, exercise, join an art class, or enjoy prepared meals with friends. 

Age Well with Friendships

We can’t overstate the importance of friendships in old age. Having friends in senior living communities allows seniors to get more out of life and provides them with an environment that is less stressful than living alone. 

Lodge at Historic Lewes believes the quality of your life improves in a lifestyle community, not declines. If you’re interested in creating friendships and living a happier and more fulfilling life, book a tour to learn more about our community. 

Written by The Lodge at Historic Lewes

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