Socialization & Seniors: Why Time with Friends is Crucial to Aging Well

seniors friendships

A good time spent with friends can often feel as though it shaves years off of one’s life. In fact, a recent study conducted by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine found a direct correlation between social isolation and a “higher risk of stroke, heart disease, and dementia among seniors.”

The following will explore just a few of the benefits that seniors can glean from a healthy dose of social time!

Reduced Stress

When you spend time with friends, you are actively combatting anxiety and stress. This is true through good times and bad! A study conducted by the Annals of Behavioral Medicine discovered “that people who discussed difficult times in their lives had a lower pulse and blood pressure when they had a friend by their side.”

Thus, when seniors spend time with the ones they love, they are actively creating a stress-relieving environment that protects against future anxiety.

Heightened Fitness

One of the benefits of socialization is that it often walks hand in hand with a higher fitness regime. Time with friends is not always sedentary. This time is encompassed by walks through the park, a trip to the beach, an outing to a local farmer’s market, etc. All of these instances help get seniors moving and in the habit of regular activity.

Lessened Cognitive Decline

It’s a long established belief that social time may stave off cognitive decline in seniors. This belief is now corroborated by scientific fact. A study conducted by the American Journal of Public Health found that “older women who maintained larger social networks reduced their risk of dementia and delayed or prevented cognitive impairment.”

It seems that the time spent actively engaged with others can help sweep the cobwebs off the idle mind. This allows for the brain to be better protected from diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Longer Lifespan

All of the previous benefits coalesce together into the last benefit: spending time with others can potentially lengthen your lifespan!

A recent article by CNN found that, after reviewing 148 scientific studies, those who are socially isolated “face a 50% greater risk of premature death than those who have stronger connections.” The time spent being physically active, less stressed, and mentally engaged all work as bodily preservatives against premature death. Thus, socialization could very well be the key to a long and happy life!