Healthy Aging For Baby Boomers

Having Friends Around Will Help You Live Longer

The Importance of Friends and Living Longer If getting older has you feeling like shutting yourself up in the house and ignoring the world, stop!

Not only does having some close friends make your life more enjoyable, but friends beat out relatives in helping us live longer. The Centre for Ageing Studies at Flinders University in Adelaide Australia did a study of people who were 70 years old and older.

The results of the study showed that for increasing your lifespan, having a group of good friends was even better than having good family ties. The Australian Longitudinal Study of Ageing (also known as the ALSA) ran the study.

The ASLA was started in 1992, and interviewed approximately 1500 people. The interviews were designed to evaluate the types of contacts that they had, including with their children and other relatives, friends, and different confidantes.

The ALSA followed the interviewees annually for four years, and continued for less often for a total of ten. Consideration was also made in regards to how other factors could affect the people being studied, including: economic, social, environmental, and lifestyle factors.

After factoring these in, the researchers could tell that friendships have a definite positive effect on your lifespan. The thing that makes this study most interesting is that it actually broke down which of the numerous social networks we have are the ones that are most beneficial.

According to this study, friends are the most important group. The study found some interesting results. Relationships with children and other relatives appeared to have little effect on the longevity rates of the participants.

There was a 22% longer lifespan of the participants who had large groups of friends and confidantes over those that did not. Plus, these effects continued even if the person experienced intense life changes such as losing a family member.   

Tips Healthy Aging

Those who are aging are demanding their rights to live and die as they choose. They are computer savvy, traveling, and contributing to society. They are not going into the aging process with an "oh well, it happens to all of us" attitude! Those who are in their late 50's are taking care of their bodies, and longevity is increasing.

This is not to say that family and other relationships are unimportant, just that the influence of friends is more important than might be expected. Unfortunately, the study was not able to pinpoint the exact reason why friendships can have such a profound effect on living longer. There are several speculations, however, including that friends may have a greater influence on older people maintaining their health in other fashions, such as quitting smoking or drinking, exercising more, or seeking medical assistance for problems.

It is also thought that friends can offer coping mechanisms as well as effecting self-esteem to help older people get through difficult times in their lives. The study did not make a distinction between new friends and old, so it is never too late to go out and make new ones. If you are unsure where to start, consider your interests.

When you go out be sure to wear sunscreen to help protect your skin from aging, to quickly from sun damage. Drinking lots of water can also keep your skin young.

You might try joining a club or group that participates in a craft you enjoy, taking up a class, getting a gym membership, or volunteering. Even taking time to get to know the people across the street in your neighborhood or across the hall in your apartment building can be the start of long-lasting friendships. Not only will you be connecting with the world around you, but you will be improving your life expectancy as well.

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