Community, friendships and family are just as important to our health as are diet, exercise and sleep. A person’s mood can greatly affect his or her state of health. For instance, being angry will put undue stress on internal organs, while laughter may lower blood pressure. Friends help us when we’re down and bring joy to our daily life, which helps our mental health just as much as our physical health.
As we enter old age, quality relationships come to be more important than ever. Conversation becomes a preventative measure against deterioration and disease. Participating in independent living activities, such as the wide variety available at Southgate at Shrewsbury, can be part of a daily health regimen.
Quality beats quantity as we age
A doctoral candidate at the University of Rochester recently published a 30-year longitudinal study that found that we require different kinds of relationships at different points in our life. Cheryl Carmichael, the author of the paper, used research data gathered over three decades to conclude that in our 20s, it’s healthier to have many friends and acquaintances, while as we enter our 30s and beyond, that number decreases, and the quality of those relationships takes on greater importance.
In our 20s, the people we meet come from various backgrounds and likely hold many opinions that are new to us. By interacting with as many people as we can, we develop a process for dealing with a variety of situations – this comes in handy as we grow along our personal and professional paths. In our 30s, the variety of our acquaintances no longer has such an effect on our health. According to the paper, it is more important simply not to be lonely. A couple good friends can replace a dozen acquaintances. The Mayo Clinic corroborated this information and added that a healthy relationship that is non-competitive, positive and accepting will contribute to good health.
Loneliness could pose a health risk
In an interview with Stanford University, Cecile Andrews, a scholar from the Clayman Institute for Gender Research, compared loneliness to smoking cigarettes. He equated the health risk to be so similar that if a lonely person joins a club or group, he or she can decrease his or her risk of death by half.
Andrews went on to say that not only are social people healthier and happier, they are more likely to be socially conscious. They vote, participate in neighborhood events and contribute to community projects. In doing so, they share in the benefits of quality relationships.
Here at Southgate, we are able to see these types of friendships blossom on a daily basis. By offering activities ranging from bowling to theater, from yoga to poker, and everything in between, people with common interests are brought together for fun times, stimulating conversation, and lots of laughter.