Time and again, research shows that seniors who have a close group of friends tend to live longer than people who don’t. Creating, nurturing, and maintaining friendships is hard in adulthood but the health benefits outweigh the potential stress that comes with fostering new relationships. Here are four health benefits of friendship for older adults:
No More Loneliness
Loneliness is a common feeling among seniors, even those in senior living facilities. Studies have revealed that 17% of seniors are in contact with friends, relatives, or neighbors once a week, with 11% in contact just once a month. In fact, millions of older adults say their television is their main form of company. And loneliness can have a big impact on a person’s mental health and awareness.
One of the most important benefits of friendship in older adults is it can boost your cognitive ability. Social interactions with other people stimulate the brain in an array of cognitive functions. Communication skills, for instance, are an integral part of successful relationships and you will keep your communication skills sharp by talking to your friends.
Everyone experiences trauma, big or small, so it’s important to find healthy ways to navigate events such as illness, loss, grief, or divorce. Having a friend — or two — can help older adults cope with trauma, connect on similar issues, and heal.
Be More Active
Friends can also encourage each other to be more active! While you might not be inclined to take a daily walk normally, with the company of a friend, you might both start walking every day. It stops feeling like exercise and starts feeling like time to catch up with your friend. Friendships also increase a person’s sense of belonging and purpose, an element that’s extremely important for your mental health. The value friends bring to seniors is priceless, so next time you second-guess starting up a new relationship, think about all the benefits you will see from it!