"In the cookie of life, friends are the chocolate chips." What a perfect way to describe the added sweetness friendships can bring to our lives. This playful quote also reminds us that friends can be a critical ingredient to our overall happiness. As we celebrate National Friendship Day tomorrow, we thought it would be interesting to dive deeper into this topic.
Let's explore how friendships impact us as we age, identify ways to be good friends, and expand upon the definition of a companion. Shall we?
How Friendships Are Good for Our Health
While companionship is important in all stages of life, it's increasingly beneficial for seniors. Several studies have shown the positive effects of friendship, linking it to better mental and physical health as we age. In fact, good friendships have the power to boost our immune system and decrease our risk of disease by diminishing blood pressure, heart rate, and cholesterol.
Experts have also linked companionship to better nutrition. As we age, our metabolism changes, and our bodies require fewer calories. Having a friend to eat with can help combat a loss of appetite and even encourage us to make healthier food choices.
Friendships Make Us Feel Better
In addition to physical health, the psychological benefits of friendship are also powerful. According to surveys of women over the age of 60, those who are socially engaged with friends and family throughout the week are much happier as they age. In addition to that, adults who have several friends reported greater worthiness, independence, and happiness than their peers who had fewer friendships.
All in all, the company of good friends can lead to increased self-esteem, decreased stress, and a sense of belonging. What a great reason to dial up your best bud!
Friendships Go Both Ways
Not only do you receive the health and wellness benefits of a friendship, but those who are on the receiving end of your love and attention benefit, too. Everyone wins. So, the next time you're wondering if you should send a card, leave a Facebook message, or make plans for a socially distanced cup of coffee, keep this thought in mind. Both sides of friendship are essential for people to feel good and filled with purpose.
With that in mind, here are a few simple ways to foster lasting friendships – regardless of how long you've known each other!
- Make yourself available. Building close relationships require time spent together. So, make the effort to get together. If it's too hard to meet in person right now, try spending quality time over the phone or through a video chat.
- Open up with personal stories. When you're willing to share your own experiences, it lets your friend know he or she holds a special place in your life. This can deepen your connection and create space for them to share something in return.
- Be kind and genuinely listen. It may sound simple, but kindness and a listening ear go a long way. This can be especially helpful to remember with friends we've had for a long time.
Companionship Can Be Found in Many Forms
Webster defines a companion as "one who keeps company with another." By this definition, companionship can be found in pets, too! In particular, dogs are great for seniors. They encourage us to try new activities, keep us company, and enrich our lives on a deeply emotional level. Dogs have a natural ability to make us smile, feel more relaxed, and in some situations, feel more secure.
Therapy dogs, especially in the home, can be a major help as we get older. They can be trained to collect things, help with walking, and even seek help. Without question, the unconditional love and trust of a pet can have significant effects on our health. There's nothing quite like the feeling of coming home to a happy pup wagging his tail or a kitty waiting to nuzzle right next to you.
You've Got a Friend in RLC
We hope this article has been helpful as you explore the meaning and benefits of companionship. Life is such a vibrant journey, and it can definitely be more fun in the company of others. If your next stage of life includes independent retirement living, we'd love to have you at a Resort Lifestyle Community. We have lots of friendly residents and chocolate chip cookies to share.
Visit our community page to find a location near you!