Why A Healthy Social Life Is Key To Aging Better
Benefits Of Staying Connected
Multiple studies have shown that social support can play a major role
when people get older in overall well-being.
Long-lasting friendships provide many people with a solid base for
caring and loyalty and can be much more relevant as we mature.
While it is only natural that staying connected to others as we age,
changes as time goes on.
Children grow up and move away,
careers often come to an end,
and daily interaction with friends begin to fade.
Though these major changes in life can be distressing,
by trying to remain connected, especially during the “golden years,”
are not only mentally beneficial but often lead to a longer more fulfilling lifestyle.
The importance of social capital —
Social capital refers to the personal ties that create trust and promote individual involvement.
While this definition is often used in our working years,
remaining socially attached is just as important afterward.
In fact, a study conducted by Gettysburg College,
the study showed that we dedicate on average, 90,000 hours working.
That is one-third of our life.
Co-workers, clients, and supervisors become a major social part of our lives during those years,
so it is only natural that we mentally feel let down by the lack of daily interactions.
By continuing to reach out to individuals that make an impact on your life,
it allows us to feel part of the team even as we age.
Staying mentally healthy –
A study conducted by the Industrial Psychiatry Journal concluded that
“Social isolation is a major risk factor for functional difficulties in older persons.”
Loss of important relationships can lead to feelings of emptiness and depression.
As humans, we require interaction from others to remain connected to society.
As we age, we often feel like we do not have as much to contribute to others,
but the reality is, we have even more to contribute.
There is now a lifetime of information and stories that can be shared with others.
Cultivating new activities –
In our more productive years, we often daydream about hobbies or goals we would like to accomplish.
While there may not be time to complete this list early on,
there is no time like the present to complete the “bucket list.”
This can as simple as planting a garden,
or as thrilling as driving across the country.
Not only do these activities keep your mind occupied,
but it also often brings about new relationships or renewed relationships
with others that share the same interests.
Boosted immune system –
The immune system is defined as a “complex network of cells and proteins
that defends the body against infection”.
Surprisingly, by remaining socially active as we age,
our bodies are exposed to multiple germs.
However, while this may seem daunting,
our bodies benefit from the exposure.
In fact, by decreasing our daily physical activities,
becoming sick increases as we age.
Even walking around the neighborhood with a friend is beneficial,
both physically and mentally stimulating.
Stimulate your brain while at home –
Being at home more after retirement does not mean that we must become less connected to others.
Simple activities such as putting together a puzzle,
chatting by phone,
or even having dinner together
can be extremely useful in maintaining a healthy mindset.
It is important to keep our brains thinking and analyzing our daily tasks and thoughts.
By sharing in each other’s hobbies,
we often learn new and interesting information
about our inner circle of friends and family
that maybe we did not have time to listen to before.
In conclusion –
Remind yourself that aging is just a part of life,
it does not define your abilities and dreams.
By staying connected to others also gives you the benefit
of remaining connected to yourself.
American author and activist Betty Friedan quoted,
“Aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength.”