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The Importance of Friends and Community as you get older.

Staying socially active and maintaining  relationships  help you to maintain a good physical and emotional state of health and cognitive function, try continue to maintain close friendships and find lots of ways to interact socially and study shows that you will live longer than those who become isolated. It is also shown that if you maintain relationships it actually helps to protect against illness by boosting your immune system.

Specific health benefits of social interaction in older adults include:

  • A reduced risk for cardiovascular problems, some cancers, osteoporosis, and rheumatoid arthritis
  • Potentially reduced risk for Alzheimer’s disease
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Reduced risk for mental health issues such as depression

Becoming socially Isolated can lead to:

  • Feeling lonely and depressed
  • Being less physically active
  • Having a greater risk of death
  • Having high blood pressure

Social interaction helps keep your brain from getting rusty, but it’s most effective when coupled with a healthy lifestyle, including a balanced diet and physical activity.

Start by staying in touch with friends and family, and try to visit with them regularly. Also consider these options for maintaining a high level of social interaction:

  • Volunteer in your community.
  • Visit a senior centre and participate in activities with other seniors, you can always find something that interests you—this is a great way to make new friends.
  • Join a group focused on activities you enjoy, such as playing cards or a book club.
  • Try taking a class—learn a new language or a new style of cooking or experiment with a new hobby, it’s never too late to learn to play a musical Instrument, learn a new craft, learn to swim, ride, paint, how to use a computer.
  • Join a gym or fitness centre to stay physically fit and interact with others.

Whenever possible engage with younger people, get a grandchild or younger neighbour to teach you something, it is definitely true that they can keep you young!

 

People who value their friendships report having happier lives and the older we get the more we value our friends, Four in five of those aged 50 or over questioned in a survey, felt they were part of their community and were also happy with their lives, compared with just half of those who did not.

For those who decide to carry on working past 65, they are often key contributors to our economy and our communities. They are skilled workers, volunteers, caregivers, mentors and leaders.

So whatever you decide to do, social interaction is the way to go!!

You can search for contact details of over 6,000 family and community services in New Zealand using the Family Services Directory.

You can also talk to:

  • your local council of community services or other networking body
  • a friendly librarian
  • an advisor at the closest CAB
  • a council community worker
  • kaiwhakahaere at a nearby marae
  • your local font of wisdom.
  • Older people may have the skills to provide community leadership and problem solving, such as advocating with the council for community improvements.
  • Older people may be at home when younger people are at work, so they can keep an eye on the neighbourhood and help keep it a safe place. You might even consider joining or setting up a Neighbourhood Support Group (also known as Neighbourhood Watch).

    Another way to keep your neighbourhood feeling safe and secure is to get to know your neighbours! Make the most of opportunities such as Neighbours Day and try and stay connected with the people around you.

 

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