Hellen Keller once wrote, “I would rather walk with a friend in the dark, than alone in the light.” Clearly, she knew a thing or two about the emotional health benefits of companionship. Hellen became deaf and blind by the age of 19 months, and as a result of her confusion, she would throw tantrums as a child. Thanks to help provided by her friend Anne Sullivan (who was also partially blind), Hellen learned how to communicate with the world and went on to become a healthy and inspirational woman (source). Never underestimate the value of companionship. As your friends move away or pass away, you might start to feel lonely. Making new friends as a senior can feel like a challenge at times, but it is well worth the effort for your emotional and physical wellbeing.
Health Benefits of Companionship
Friendship and Life Expectancy
Over the years, countless researchers have studied the health benefits of companionship between friends. A 2010 meta-analysis reviewed studies including a total of 308,000 people across 148 studies and found a strong connection between social relationships and increased lifespan. In fact, the positive impact of friendship was comparable to the positive impact of exercising. In addition, a recent study suggests that bonds between friends have an even greater impact on health and wellbeing than bonds between family members.
Researchers have been able to pinpoint specific ways in which friendship benefits health:
- Friendship can lower your blood pressure (source).
- Friendship can help your body fight inflammation (source).
- Adults who experience loneliness may be more likely to develop dementia (source).
Health Benefits of Romantic Companionship
Friendship certainly has its benefits, but so does romantic companionship. If you have lost your partner, give yourself time to grieve, but don’t feel guilty about finding a new romantic companion in time. According to WebMD, romantic relationships enhance your health in several ways:
- Fewer Doctor Visits: The Health and Human Services Department (HHSD) conducted a meta-analysis of studies on marriage and health. According to the report, married people visit the doctor fewer times and even have shorter hospital stays.
- Lower Rates of Depression and Anxiety: It’s no secret that depression has a negative impact on your physical and emotional health. The same meta-analysis by the HHSD found that marriage can lower your risk of depression. In addition, a long-lasting and stable relationship can lower anxiety rates, according to researchers at Stony Brook University.
- Pain Management: In a study published in Psychological Science, researchers subjected 16 married women to the threat of an electric shock. When the women’s husbands held their hands, they showed less of a stress response in their brains.
- Enhanced Immune System: Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University discovered that people who frequently experience positive emotions, like love, are less likely to get sick after exposure to viruses.
Are you looking for a way to make some new friends? Moving to an assisted living community is a great way to meet people and soak in the health benefits of companionship. Consider a move to the Shores of Lake Phalen, an assisted living community in a quiet, peaceful environment in Maplewood, Minnesota. Surrounded by a gorgeous wooded setting between two lakes, our residence offers the accessibility of apartment-style housing with the atmosphere and elegance of a resort. Thanks to our team of dedicated staff members, residents enjoy a carefree lifestyle, without the common worries of running a household. We offer numerous health and safety amenities, fun events and activities, a friendly and accommodating staff, and so much more. Schedule a tour of the community to explore our spacious apartments, elegant dining room, and more. We look forward to hearing from you!