Friends play an important role in every stage of our lives. From preschool, to college, to our first jobs, friends are there every step of the way to love, support and celebrate us. Although it can be difficult to make new friends as an adult, you may be surprised to learn the positive impact our friends can have in the later stages of our lives.
A new study shared by AARP shows friends, rather than family, have a more positive impact on individuals as they get older. The participants in the study identified their friendships as the only reliable predictor of how happy and healthy they felt.
Here’s how senior living communities like Claridge Court offer a welcoming atmosphere that makes forging new connections easy—especially for older adults—and why that’s such a benefit to your health.
How Community Living Helps Build Relationships
Workplaces and schools make it easy to meet new people and forge new friendships. On a school campus, you can strike up a lively conversation with a stranger on the way to lunch and become best friends by the end of the day. When at work, conversations happen around shared coffee stations and happy hours, often leading to strong friendships. But after retirement, meeting new people can become more difficult.
The advantage of living in a senior community like Claridge Court is that it provides a similar environment where you can meet new people with shared interests. More and more studies show that older adults are healthier and happier when they live in a community setting surrounded by their peers.
Experience Less Loneliness
Living in a community can help you feel less alone. There’s always an opportunity to leave your apartment and join others in a common area, or reach out to find an exercise or dinner partner. Community life gives you more opportunities for socialization. The more activities you participate in, the easier it can be to connect with others.
Foster a Sense of Purpose and Belonging
Being a confidant and trusted friend can give us all a sense of meaning and purpose. As we get older, we may lose this sense of belonging in the workplace or among friends who have moved or passed away. But even the sense of being a part of a wider community such as the one at Claridge Court can promote a feeling of increased belonging.
How Friendships Impact Our Health and Well-Being
Friendships can have positive effects on our physical and mental health. Here are a few of the many ways friendships can benefit our health:
Decrease Stress Levels
When you talk to your friend after a bad day, you often feel better. That’s because socializing with friends actually reduces stress. “Unloading details of a bad day to a friend can relieve some of your own stress,” Dr. Mahzad Hojjat, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at the University of Massachusetts reveals.
While trusted social connections are vital for decreasing your stress levels, physical touch is also an important factor in minimizing stress. “A PLoS study found that hugging diminished negative emotions like stress. Positive and welcome physical touch is great for connection and health.”
Maintain Good Cognitive Health
Good conversations not only prevent high levels of stress, but also improve your brain health. According to neurology professor, Joel Salinas, “People with good listeners in their lives are more likely to have a brain that sustains its ‘raw horsepower’ over time.” This in turn protects the brain against age-related diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Professor Salinas and his team analyzed data from the Framingham Heart Study in which participants who were an average of 63 years old, answered questions about social support in their lives. Those who confirmed having a trusted confidant had a reduced risk of dementia, stroke and other neurological conditions.
Lower The Risk Of Negative Health Outcomes
Our emotions affect our bodies. Positive feelings help us feel more healthy while negative feelings can lead to serious health issues.
For example, when you’re lonely, you become anxious, depressed and hopeless. These feelings have been linked to inflammation. Inflammation can create serious long-term health issues such as heart disease, arthritis, stroke or Alzheimer’s.
Make New Connections at Claridge Court
At Claridge Court, residents have the opportunity to meet like-minded individuals who share their passions and interests. We understand that life at a retirement community should encourage personal exploration, friendship and joy. That’s why we’re proud to offer an elegant and refined lifestyle for older adults that embraces the unique culture of the Kansas City area. From our neighborhood’s quiet-yet-connected Johnson County location to our sterling services and amenities, senior living in Prairie Village, KS, simply doesn’t get any better.
To discover more about what it’s like to live here, or to schedule a tour, contact us.