As a senior, your social health is as important as your physical health. Experts say that older people should try to keep in touch with friends and family every day. Many people do not realize it, but the lack of social interaction can lead to a series of health risks. A quality social life can have the same effect on your general health as good training.
While the so-called "baby boomers" are approaching their golden years, the number of elderly people living alone increases. According to several reports, older adults without children are increasing, leaving fewer family members to care for them. As a result, social isolation has become more frequent in our communities. Consciousness is the first step to overcome loneliness.
It is therefore not surprising that sometimes this is heard of: medical recommendation, go out with your friends and enjoy. If you have a network of people you trust, with whom you can share the problems and go out for good times you will feel the difference in your own body. And it's not small: by measuring the factors that help in longevity, research from Brigham Young University in the United States found that having social relationships is even more important than exercising and eating well. But how?
1. Increase the health of the body
If you have been surprised with the information that friends are more important than diets and gyms, just follow the reasoning of Julianne Holt-Lunstad, professor of psychology and head of the study on friendships at the American university: "Friendships They are stimulating, "he explains. "A person who belongs to a social circle ends spontaneously, becoming more active and with a more diversified diet."
The result of having friendships can be observed in various systems of the body, especially the cardiorespiratory. The improvement in quality of life has direct effects on breathing, blood pressure and heartbeat.
Having friends improves indicators such as cholesterol and blood glucose. With that, the immune system also evolves. And, for those who already have a chronic problem, friendships help to deal with it. "Diseases can seem more serious when you're alone and you only think about it all day." Social relationships distract for other issues, even if they are the problems of other people, "the expert points out.
2. Increase mental health
The image of the elderly person living alone and without many friends is totally out of date. This population segment now enjoys an intense social activity, which is a great remedy to deal with anxiety and stress.
Friendship is so stimulating that seeing a happy friend increases your own happiness. Coexistence reduces the amount of the stress hormone (cortisol) and stimulates the production of all the hormones related to happiness, capable of increasing resistance to pain (endorphins), combating depressive states (serotonin) and improving bonds emotional and the pleasure of belonging to a group (oxytocin).
And how many friends are necessary to obtain these results? Studies suggest that it is important to have at least four good friends, but clearly there is no maximum limit, the more the better!
Dr. Waldinger, current director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, has followed more than 700 people since they were teenagers in 1938. More than 60 of the original participants, now in their 90s, still participate.
Over the years, the researchers interviewed, collected their health information (including brain scans and blood samples) and answered questions about their work and home, as well as their mental and emotional well-being. Finally they began to interview the spouses of these people.
The conclusion reached is that it is also important to nurture or improve existing relationships with family, friends and spouses. "People who work and stay in relationships are happier," explains Dr. Waldinger.
Finally, do not think about having close relationships as a routine task, think of it as part of your personal care. "Staying connected and involved is really a way to take care of yourself, like exercising or eating right," says Dr. Waldinger. "This is an important recipe for longevity."