A senior living community offers innumerable benefits to its residents. But some valuable aspects often overlooked are the benefits of social living as a senior. Living on campus makes it so easy to stay socially connected, which is better for you than just chasing away your boredom.
However, studies show that friendship is important in every stage of life and may become even more vital as you retire. According to AARP, maintaining healthy social relationships can help you maintain better overall health. Which is why we’ve written about the major benefits of social living.
Here is why developing strong friendships is so important as you age…
1. Good for Memory and Cognitive Function
One benefit of social living is improved memory. There is a theory that sociability and cognitive health are connected. Surprisingly, the cognitive benefits of sociability don’t diminish with age. According to Medical News Today, those who visit or speak to their friends, test younger in cognitive age.
Now, you can’t always go visit the people you want. However, there are always alternatives that make keeping in touch with the people you care about easier.
If you want to talk to your friends and family more, try:
- Skype or Facetime.
- Join a social media platform.
- Take a new class with a friend.
- Join a choir.
- Host a card or board game night.
So, if you are concerned with growing forgetful, try scheduling a Skype call with your family every week or join in the activities in your community. Plan with a friend to go to a wine tasting or join a trivia league. Fortunately, senior communities always have social activities to give you and your friends some onsite fun.
2. Encourages Good Habits
Most of us like to think that our good habits are the result of learning from past mistakes and gaining self-control. However, years of social research actually indicate the culprit is completely external. Your peers.
You might not want to admit it, but your behaviors are heavily influenced by your social groups. Again and again, studies have shown the same results; we are the sum of our social circles and this can be good or bad.
People are more likely to do the following if other members of their social groups are doing it:
- Lose/gain weight.
- Stay married/get divorced.
- Drink less/more alcohol.
- Live healthier lifestyles/participate in riskier behaviors.
So, the next time you are thinking about making a change, like losing a few pounds, find a couple of friends who want to do it with you.
3. Stress Management
Whether you are dealing with a major life event or minor daily annoyances, people with close friendships cope better. This is due to the social support we get from people close to us.
According to Very Well Mind, studies define social support as:
“acts that communicate caring; that validate the other’s words, feelings or actions; or that facilitate adaptive coping with problems through the provision of information, assistance, or tangible resources.”
It’s easy to see how social support helps individuals manage their stress and anxiety.
This support is broken up into several types:
- Emotional Support: affirmation of an individual’s worth and validation of their feelings. This kind of support is crucial for building emotional trust in one another and allows people to express vulnerability.
- Informational Support: sharing advice or information with the intent to help someone understand a situation. This kind of support encourages the individual to not feel alone and points them in a direction to find answers and experts.
- Tangible Support: sharing resources, such as lending a friend a car or money. This support helps both parties feel they are taken care of and are part of a loving community. Think of it as a cushion for hard times.
- Belonging Support: having people to spend time with who include you as part of their group. Though it may be one of the most common, all it requires is being open, courteous, and caring.
Those experiencing major or disruptive life changes – like a chronic illness or loss – will often reference one of the five support types that best help them cope. Psychologically speaking, it makes sense that we feel less stressed when we aren’t going through a problem alone.
So, the next time you are feeling a little stressed, try hanging out with a friend and share a few laughs to cheer both of you up.
Now, of course, you can get all the benefits of social living without living in a senior community. It all comes down to how you maintain your social life as you age. But wouldn’t it be so much easier to visit and talk to friends if they were just a few doors down?
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