How Friendship Affects The Health And Wellbeing Of Seniors

Fairview Lifestyle Village believes friendship is one of the best ways to support residents’ emotional and physical wellbeing.

As social creatures, we are wired to connect from birth. Relationships with family members, friends, and colleagues are an integral part of our lives. Our social ties provide us with emotional support, a sense of belonging, and companionship. Friendships can be even more crucial in late adulthood. Social circles can shrink as we age. We retire from work, our kids move away, and loved ones pass away. Feelings of loneliness and isolation may result from this. We don’t want that for our residents. It is well known that social isolation places older adults at risk for both physical and psychological health problems (Blieszner, Ogletree & Adams, 2019).

It is for this reason that Fairview Lifestyle Village has designed its facility in a way that encourages social interaction. We offer a variety of amenities, activities and common spaces that help residents connect.

For seniors, friendship is key for their health and mental well-being

Study after study has found that health and psychological well-being improve for seniors when they:

1. like and care about other people
2. have fun together
3. feel comfortable confiding in each other
4. remind each other to stay healthy (Blieszner & Adams, 1992). To put it another way – when they have good friends! The Golden Girls, a popular sitcom from the 1980s, is a non-factual but fun way to illustrate this. Fairview is a bit like this, albeit on a much larger scale and with men paying leading roles too!

Friendships help give meaning to older adults’ lives by conveying feelings of connectivity (Bruggencate, Luijkx, & Sturm, 2018). Friendship also provides companionship through mutual interests and shared activities (Huxhold, Miche, & Schüz, 2014).

Taking part in social activities is another important factor in aging well

The importance of participating in social activities has been identified as a key factor in aging well (Rowe & Khan, 1997). Having social connections is important for individual well-being (Pavot & Diener, 1993). Socially connected individuals tend to be healthier and more optimistic about their futures (Antonucci, 2001; Cohen & Janicki-Deverts, 2009). Subjective well-being refers to how happy an individual feels about his or her life. Providing individuals with the opportunity to engage in social activities contributes to subjective well-being (Berkman, Glass, Brissette, & Seeman, 2000).

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Social isolation and loneliness can reduce health in older adults

Having unmet social needs can make you lonely and socially isolated. Social support is important for maintaining cognitive functioning and physical health in senior years (Béland, Zunzunegui, Alvarado, Otero, & del Ser, 2005; Holt-Lunstad, Smith, & Layton, 2010). People who have strong ties to family and friends are more likely to stay independent, have a sense of purpose in life, and have good physical and psychological health. For older adults, understanding the connection between friend support and psychological problems like depression is critical.

Santini and colleagues (2015) reviewed 51 studies (published between 2004 and 2014) that examined the effects of social support, social networks, and depression from around the world. They concluded that perceived emotional support within a large and diverse social network can protect against depression. An active friend network can also help buffer the effects of life events that may occur as we age.

What role does spaciousness play in friendship and wellbeing?

Spaciousness in our villages provides more opportunities for socializing. As there are common social spaces where residents can relax together and enjoy activities, our village encourages friendship and social interaction. We have also taken great care when designing homes for our residents.

Space for entertaining friends, family, and grandkids

An increase in living space (generally) represents an increase in personal freedom. In the UK, for example, having friends round, sitting in peace and quiet and eating as a family are all activities limited by lack of space (Robert-Hughes 2011).

Having people around and being able to entertain is important for connectivity. We took this into account when designing our homes, apartments, and villas. The spaciousness of each property facilitates entertaining friends and family.

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What role do retirement villages play in fostering friendship?

Retirement villages play an important role in fostering friendships. There are numerous ways that Fairview Retirement Village supports friendships among its residents.

Organizing social gatherings and special interest groups is one of our staff members’ top priorities.
Taking part in shared interests and activities can help older adults combat loneliness and feel connected. As well as psychological benefits, social connections can improve cognitive functioning and physical health in old age. This is why the Village has invested in a number of amenities and activities to foster friendship:

Hobbies play an important role in subjective wellbeing, and when combined with social connection, they can have even greater benefits. Fairview Lifestyle Village goes beyond providing amenities to connect, we also offer a variety of activities to enjoy.

Our village staff are some of the kindest and most caring people you will ever meet. All of our residents feel like family to them, and they always go above and beyond to ensure they feel a sense of belonging. To foster meaningful connections between residents, a lot of effort is put into organizing social activities. Our supportive community is the perfect place to make lasting friendships. The importance of friendship for mental and physical health is well understood in our community.

Get in touch with the team at Fairview Lifestyle Village today to see how a place at our facilities can keep you healthy, fit, and living your best life in retirement.