Maybe you’re familiar with the heartwarming C.S. Lewis quote: “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.” It’s true: Friendships make us feel a lot less alone in the world, boosting our self-esteem and even driving several compelling physical health benefits. The power of friendship is especially important as we enter our golden years.
The Power of Friendship
Mental Health Benefits of Friendship
You know that chatting on the phone with an old friend boosts your mood. But did you know that friendship carries a wide variety of distinct mental health benefits? Those benefits can make the cloudy days much brighter:
- Increasing belonging and purpose
- Boosting happiness
- Improve self-confidence and self-worth
- Reducing stress levels
- Reducing suffering around trauma, like the death of a loved one
Physical Health Benefits of Friendship
While the power of friendship has definite mental benefits, it also has notable health benefits. Strong social ties help reduce a variety of physical ailments:
- High blood pressure
- Clinical depression
- Unhealthy body mass index
- Early death
That’s right: Older adults with strong friendships actually lived longer than those without strong communities.
Making New Friends in Adulthood
Reduced risk of depression and a longer lifespan? The evidence is clear: People with strong friendships enjoy healthier, more enjoyable lives. But making new friends can seem tricky when you don’t have a school schedule to stick to and likely aren’t going into the office for water cooler talk. Not sure how to meet new friends as you get older? To revitalize your social connections in your senior years, think outside the box. Sign up for an online cooking, baking, or writing class, and don’t knock the benefits of social media. Websites like Facebook and Instagram can be great for seeking out old friends from high school or new friends who may share your interests.
How to Nurture Your Friendships
If you’re lucky enough to have a strong network of beloved friendships, you might be wondering how to nurture those friendships into your senior years. With retirement plans and grandkids taking the forefront, it can be easy for your friendships to take a backseat. However, there are lots of ways to keep your friendships going strong – even if you find yourself in a new neighborhood or a different city than the other members of your community. Try setting aside a time each week to call or video chat with your friends to stay connected. You might also enjoy setting up a designated snail mail session, sending out letters to your closest confidantes to stay in touch the old-fashioned way. Finally, remember that everyone likes a little encouragement now and then. Make sure to remind your friends how much they enrich your lives, whether that’s over the phone or by sending a thoughtful gift, like a flower arrangement.
Humans are social creatures, and the power of friendship is undeniable – especially as we enter our sunset years, when community ties are more important than ever before. If you’d like to strengthen your friendships, don’t be afraid to suggest regular catch-ups or initiate a weekly video chat. With benefits ranging from improved mental health to a longer lifespan, friendship plays an important role in our mental and physical health.
Are you looking for an assisted living community in Tennessee? Check out Hearthside Senior Living in Collierville and Bartlett. Our warm and inviting communities makes it easy for seniors to embrace a healthy lifestyle, with home-cooked and restaurant-style meals, exercise classes, and a nurse devoted to residents’ health and wellness. To learn more about our amenities and services, please contact us online.