Group of Seniors Smiling

How Important is Having Friends to Your Health?

Humans generally are a social being. Both young and adults need to interact with others to enjoy a better life. Many benefits come with maintaining social interactions with friends, most notably for older adults.  

As we age, the ability to move about freely decreases and our dependency becomes higher. This means that we need other people to rely on. Engaging in social interaction with friends offers seniors many benefits.

In this write-up, we will be discussing the importance of social interactions to the health of older adults. But before we proceed, let’s first take a look at the adverse effect of isolation.

  • Loneliness – This is one of the obvious consequences of being socially isolated. It is one of the risk factors for cognitive and functional decline. Loneliness is associated with some of the deaths of seniors who are above 60 years.
  • Depression – This, on its own, is a topic for another day. Most seniors suffer from depression due to a lack of social interactions. It has a more significant impact on the mortality rate of older adults.
  • Less physical activity – Life becomes annoying when you don’t have people around you. Being in isolation means lesser physical activities. And this can be very detrimental to your health.

Now to the benefits of social interaction

According to the National Institute on Aging,

“Positive indicators of social well-being may be associated with lower levels of interleukin-6 in otherwise healthy people. Interleukin-6 is an inflammatory factor implicated in age-related disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular disease, and some forms of cancer.”

From the statement above, you can see that social interaction helps to lower the risk of age-related disorder. Seniors are more likely to enjoy better mental health if they have supportive relationships with friends and family.

Social interaction helps older adults to stay mentally sharp, healthy and reduce the risk of dementia. Maintaining good interpersonal relationships can help you improve your cognitive function. Seniors who keep a close relationship with their friends tend to enjoy better health than those who become lonely or isolated. 

Research has shown that people who interact socially live longer than those who are not socially exposed. Relationships and social interactions help seniors to fight against illness by boosting their immune system.

Some health benefits of social interaction with friends for older adults include:

  • It reduces the risk for cardiovascular problems, some cancers, osteoporosis, and rheumatoid arthritis
  • It potentially lowers the risk associated with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Social interaction reduces the risk of mental health issues such as depression

Staying socially active will help you maintain good physical and emotional health. It keeps your brain from getting rusty and redundant.

Reach out and connect with your loved ones, friends and relatives. Participate in both physical and mental activities with your friends. Volunteer and contribute to community service in your neighborhood. All these will help you to stay as vibrant, socially active, as you once used to be.

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