The Importance of Friendships | Senior Lifestyle

Here at Senior Lifestyle, we think that, of all the awesome holidays in August, Friendship Day may in fact be our favorite! We like this holiday so much that we feel it should be Friendship Day every day, because every day in our senior living communities, friendships are developed or even re-kindled when new residents move in. We often hear stories from family members and residents about the discovery of long-lost friends “just down the hall” and we’re delighted when friends re-connect! New friendships are wonderful too, and often happen when residents welcome new neighbors to take part in an activity or a social hour. There’s an old song that says “Make new friends, but keep the old…” and we feel there’s no better advice!

According to the official Friendship Day website, in 1935 the United States Congress declared the first Sunday in August to be National Friendship Day. The idea caught on, and Friendship Day became an annual event. The day has become so popular that it is now celebrated internationally, and in 1997 Friendship Day gained a world-renowned Ambassador of Friendship when the United Nations voted none other than Winnie-the-Pooh to this prestigious role.

Congressional proclamations and celebrity endorsements aside, research from Harvard Medical School shows that frequent social interaction and strong social connections are healthy, no matter your age. Quality over quantity appears to be a key to this health benefit, as individuals with a limited but strong social support system seem to fare as well as those with a vast group of connections. The effects of these strong social bonds appear to be as powerful in their influence of long-term health as a good diet, adequate sleep, and a non-smoking lifestyle. Studies show that this benefit is especially meaningful for seniors, as it decreases the risk of dementia significantly.

When asked what factors led to a search for senior living, many residents at Senior Lifestyle communities say that a need for more social interaction was a deciding factor. Additionally, the availability of group activities is often a source of satisfaction for these residents. What does all this mean? In a nutshell, it means that forming (and maintaining) strong friendships and social connections not only feels good, but it IS good! As health strategies go, it doesn’t get much easier than being a friend: no weights to lift, no special equipment, and no membership required!

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