“Some people are so special in our lives that it’s hard to imagine existing in a universe without them. Happy friendship day, my friend!“– From a 1950’s Hallmark Card
Friendships are good for our mental, physical, and emotional health. Studies have found that having good friends can add years to our lives, keep our brains sharp, and stave off loneliness which is a major risk factor for dementia.
According a study published in the Journals of Gerontology found that loneliness is associated with a 40% increased risk of dementia. And another study published in “JAMA Medicine” found that loneliness increased the risk of functional decline in study subjects over the age of 60, and also shortened their lifespan.
The University of Michigan Health researchers said that older adults who reported feelings of isolation were 1.5X more likely to die during the 6-yr period of the study. They were also unable to perform simple tasks such as walking around the block or lifting weights compared do people who were socially connected.
According to the study it is the quality and not the quantity of friends that count when it comes to bolstering our health and well-being.
Rosemary Blieszner, PhD., an expert in gerontology at Virginia Polytechnic Institute, says, “if you have at least one person who understands you and you can relate to honestly, that is enough to keep you feeling healthy.“
Dr. Blieszner says that social interaction with friends keeps our thinking and cognitive skills sharp.
“People who are socially isolated and not stimulated are the ones who tend to have lower cognitive ability in old age,” she says. She adds that besides keep your mentally fit, friends encourage others to eat well and stay physically fit.
“There can be a connection between the health habits you’re making and how that might be influenced by friends,” she says. “If they are healthy and encourage you, you gain benefits.”
Bruce WD Barren has the following to say ,”Loneliness and a non-challenging mind are the worst diseases in the world, yet many seniors fall into this trap. Brief of local and international events dulls one’s mind and too often elderly conversation focuses primarily on health issues which are in most cases depressing. Also important is to have youth children involved in a senior’s daily actively. Too often, senior citizens are left mostly on their own, talking only to their pets as their only conversational piece.
“Imbalanced diets and alcohol also are destructive to an elderly mind and body which should be discussed with one’s doctor. However, too many elderly persons used doctor visits as social events and are afraid to discuss or lack the knowledge of how to discuss and learn from their specific situati9ons. Group walking is also encouraged, especially elderly morning walks when a main is fresh and conversational news is plentiful. So, why not used them to your advantage. Daily phone calls and often personal visits are also good with receptive smiles and involvement in grand children activities are too paramount.
“So, watch the stagnant habits of the elderly. Induced and participating conversations where one can recall and use the wisdom of their younger activities. Shipping an elderly person which is too often the case is not encouraged. Remember when you were very young, who gave you the love, guidance and encouragements – your elderly parents – grandparents, and friends.
“Now it is your turn to reciprocate for some day you too will become elderly,” says Bruce WD Barren, an often contributor to LTN and who has had extensive in-depth business experience in dealing with the elderly.
Have a happy, healthy day, Keep the Faith!