Good Friends are Good for Your HealthPosted Thu, May 16 at 12:00am
The following article was recently featured in the May 15 edition of the "Laconia Daily Sun."
This headline statement made recently by the Mayo Clinic sums up the importance of seniors staying engaged and involved with others as an essential component of staying healthy and happy. “Human beings are social creatures. Our lives are improved by the quantity and quality of our relationships and interactions with others” according to the latest report from MetLife Mature Market Institute. The report goes on to point out that “A community that fosters these interactions by creating a meaningful and livable environment for all residents will reap the benefits.”
Tim Martin, president and CEO of Taylor Community, echoes the critical importance of the social interaction. “Whether you’re talking about a retirement community or the greater Lakes Region community we’re all a part of, being with others, making friends and staying active and involved ends up being most important in seniors’ happiness, and in fact, their health.”
Research shows that one of the key drivers for senior resident satisfaction is the ease of making new friends. Martin explained, “Seniors look at important things like cost, services, and accommodations as they age, downsize and make changes in their retirement living. But at the end of the day, it’s all about relationships with people, getting together, having fun, and not being lonely or bored.”
Whether you live in a retirement community or in your own home, friendship and community become increasingly important. The good news for seniors living in the Lakes Region is that the opportunities are endless. “The reality is that there are a wealth of local options for seniors to be involved, engaged and entertained,” said Paul Charlton, marketing director at Taylor. “Right here on our Laconia campus we have music concerts, programs presented by the NH Humanities Council, speakers and presenters from UNH, Plymouth State University, Lakes Region Community College, trips, activities and events of all kinds and most of these are open to the public at no charge. Regular readers of the Daily Sun are informed of many and varied opportunities to join others for interesting, informative, rewarding and entertaining activities. Charlton noted that he thinks Laconia is sometimes unfairly categorized as a town that offers little to do for seniors and people of all ages. “Nothing could be further from the truth! I am amazed at all there is going on at area churches, libraries, historical societies, museums, civic groups, fitness clubs, local farms, restaurants, Meadowbrook, Gunstock, the Friendship Club, Belknap Mill, LRGH, the Humane Society, Chamber of Commerce, the Wow Trail, Laconia Adult Education, Lakes Region Community College, and Senior Centers.
The list goes on and on,” Charlton said.
“It’s not a matter of seniors not having choices,” explains Taylor Community activity director Carol Warren. “But the important choice for seniors to make is to take the steps to connect with others. That’s much easier to do living in a retirement community, but seniors anywhere can participate and be involved as much as they want”.
There’s no question that that we enjoy making new friends, but as we age we may find it more difficult. These senior tips published on Yahoo Voices for making new friends may help you to get your old skills back in gear and develop the friendships you want.
1. Recognize the importance of friendship It's very easy to take friendships for granted, right up until the moment when a friendship is lost. As we experience the void left by a friend who has moved away, we begin to see how very important friendship is in our lives. The presence of friends provides us with companionship, conversation, and caring. Without friends we can survive but the quality of life is definitely diminished. Acknowledging the importance of friends is the first and perhaps most important senior tip for making new friends.
2. Be ready to put yourself where the action is. Knowing how important friends are is important but that knowledge is only useful if you act on it. Sitting in your home, cottage or apartment waiting for something wonderful to happen to or for you isn't likely to bring a swarm of new friends to your door. A second important senior tip for making new friends is to put yourself where the action is. This can mean signing up for things, joining things, being part of community activities. You don't have to do everything, but if you want to make friends it's important to join activities where you can meet others in a relaxed and secure atmosphere.
3. Listen with compassion. Most human beings like to have an attentive audience. Making friends often means demonstrating that you have the capacity to look beyond your own problems or personal difficulties and extend yourself as a compassionate listener to meet the needs of someone else. There is simply no quicker way to make a friend, as the saying goes, than to be one. But listening with compassion is not easy. It requires patience, fortitude and the ability to put yourself in the other's place.
4. Don't be afraid to share. There are lots of seniors who make it their business to be as compassionate and as caring as they can be and it truly does help them to begin friendships, but in most cases, if you want your friendships to develop and deepen, a good senior tip for making new friends is - don't be afraid to share. Sharing is meant not just as loaning a sweater or dividing a dessert, but reaching down deep and sharing yourself.
5. Keep in touch. Knowing the importance of friendships will help you to get started. Putting yourself where the action is will allow you to meet folks. Infusing your relationships both with compassion and with a modest sharing of who you are can help to build friendships. But if you really want to maintain new friendships once they have been started, it’s crucial to stay in touch with your friends.
There is no replacement in this world for friendship. As seniors sometimes we need to remember that, like anything worthwhile, making new friends takes work. Following these senior tips can get you off in the right direction.
Taylor Community is a not-for-profit 501 (C) ( 3) continuing care retirement community located in New Hampshire’s Lakes Region. For more information or to arrange a visit call 524-5600 or visit online at www.taylorcommunity.org.
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