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Three female senior friends in a park

The Health Benefits of Friendships for Seniors

Most people know that exercising, eating a balanced diet, and getting seven to eight hours of quality sleep each night is vital for good health. It’s a combination of lifestyle choices that’s essential at every stage in life. For older adults, however, experts say there is another key to staying healthy: friendships. Seniors who socialize with a supportive circle of friends often enjoy longer, healthier lives.

By remaining connected with friends, you will likely socialize more frequently and stay engaged with your community. Socially active seniors are usually better about following their doctor’s advice for routine health screenings and other self-care necessities. It leads to increased overall physical, emotional, and mental health.

By contrast, the dangers associated with isolation during retirement years are well documented. Older adults who aren’t socially engaged are more likely to live a sedentary life and develop health problems. Diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and depression are just a few ailments that are more common among seniors who suffer from loneliness.

How Friends Influence Our Health

As you age, it’s also important to your health to surround yourself with the right friends. When your friends are healthy eaters, for example, you will probably be as well. The reverse is also true for this and other lifestyle choices.

If your friends are smokers or heavy alcohol consumers, you are more likely to indulge too. Those negative habits are linked to increased rates of cancer, high blood pressure, strokes, and other potentially life-limiting illnesses. Even if you don’t pick up a friend’s smoking habit, being exposed to secondhand smoke is also dangerous for your health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, secondhand smoke is linked to lung cancer, heart disease, and stroke.

Expanding Your Social Circle

Many older adults find their social circle getting smaller for reasons beyond their control. A friend might retire and relocate to live closer to their grandchildren. Others retire and move to a warmer place or a destination they’ve always enjoyed visiting. Having friends pass away is another unfortunate reality seniors experience in greater numbers.

If you or a senior loved one is struggling to rebuild your social circle, we have some ideas to consider:

  • Investigate senior groups at your place of worship
  • Join and participate in activities at a local senior center
  • Call local nonprofits that you feel a strong connection with and ask if they need volunteers
  • Explore fitness programs for seniors at your local YMCA or health club
  • Check with nearby libraries and bookstores to see if they host book clubs
  • Enroll in a continuing education class or one-night workshop
  • Connect with a retiree group based on your former profession, such as a retired teachers association
  • Get involved with groups and clubs based on your favorite hobbies, such as gardening or photography

A few additional ideas to explore during COVID-19 include:

  • Take an online class at your local garden center or center for arts
  • Connect with a virtual workout group through your local gym or yoga studio
  • Call your local park system to investigate walking groups for seniors

Another way to increase your social circle is moving to a senior living community. Residents often find neighbors who share similar interests and passions quickly become friends. Older adults who live in an independent, assisted living, or memory care community also have numerous opportunities to participate in a variety of life enrichment activities each day. At Clearwater communities, we call it Empowered Living.

Empowered Living at Clearwater

Clearwater communities understand the importance of staying socially engaged. Our lifestyle philosophy provides residents opportunities to connect with peers in a variety of ways. It might be during a morning fitness activity or an art workshop in the afternoon. We invite you to call the Clearwater Living community nearest you to learn more!

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