The Importance of Friendship for Seniors Health

The recent post from the Seniors Helping Seniors PA is so relevant that deserves a place in this blog:
Posted on August 20th, 2019 by Sarah Bishop
Social interaction is vital to every senior’s health, wellbeing, and quality of life. Regular interactions with a kind, friendly caregiver can help lift a senior’s spirits and keep them mentally active and engaged. The impact that healthy relationships can have on an individual’s life go farther than many may expect, preventing disease and aiding in recovery.
The American Journal of Public Health notes an association between weaker social relationships and increased rates of readmission to hospital. This suggests that strengthening social ties could shorten hospital stays and prevent some readmissions. The great thing about this research is that it shows that there aren’t insurmountable hurdles in the way of being healthier. A senior can proactively take steps to ensure a safer, healthier future just by strengthening friendships. Support systems like Seniors Helping Seniors® in-home care services make this easy by matching seniors in need of help with like-minded active seniors. Senior caregivers are carefully chosen to match interests with the seniors they are caring for, allowing friendships to blossom. As the American Journal of Public Health would point out, these stronger relationships shape how people heal once they are ill. According to the American Journal of Public Health, “Stronger social networks and support are associated with higher levels of patient adherence to medical treatment, and individuals who perceive their relationships to be unsatisfactory are less likely to use active coping methods.” A positive mindset can have a huge impact on recovery. It’s much easier to think positively when one is surrounded by caring people offering their support. A Seniors Helping Seniors® caregiver is particularly helpful through recovery as they can take care of things that would otherwise weigh on a senior’s mind, like light housekeeping or cooking and shopping. Having a companion around that can assist with medication reminders or transport a senior to their appointments will clearly make it much easier to adhere to the medical treatment advised by their doctor. Seniors Helping Seniors® caregivers are even trained to care for complex conditions like memory loss, dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
Social relationships don’t just dictate recovery from illness, as it turns out they can even prevent illness as well. According to the British Medical Journal, poor social relationships were associated with an almost 30% increased risk of coronary heart disease and a 32% increased risk of stroke. Maintaining friendships and regular social interaction is an easy way to improve cardiovascular health. Loneliness won’t just impact mental health, but will put undue stress on a senior’s physical health as well.
Who is at risk of social isolation? Anyone could find himself or herself without a strong support structure if they lose touch with friends or family. However, a study reported by the Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute (MDPI) reports that typically due to a lifelong investment in social networks/friends/family and the societal role as caregiver to others, women are less likely than men to experience social isolation in older age. It’s also important to note that according to the MDPI, living arrangements themselves – alone or with others – are not indicative of social contact or engagement. This means, if a senior hopes to remain independent in the comfort of their own home, they aren’t outright subjecting themselves to weaker social ties. It is certainly possible to maintain independence while maintaining strong friendships and familial relationships. This is all made easier with the help of a dedicated caregiver.
Living alone doesn’t have to mean aging alone. Seniors choosing to age gracefully in the comfort of their own home should consider the role that a caregiver could have in maintaining their social relationships and therefore their health.

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