It’s February, which brings us Valentine’s Day and thoughts of love.
Louis Cozolino, professor of psychology at Pepperdine University writes in Timeless: Nature’s Formula for Health and Longevity, “Of all the experiences we need to survive and thrive, it is the experience of relating to others that is the most meaningful and important,” he writes. “A life that maximizes social interaction and human-to-human contact is good for the brain at every stage, particularly for the aging brain.”
Researchers conducting a study, involving nearly 7,000 participants over a seven year period, found that those with strong social ties lived longer than other participants. Social connection was a greater predictor of longevity than socioeconomic status, smoking, drinking, exercise or weight.
It is amazing to see how staying connected with others can impact your life for the better. It is even more powerful for older adults. Isolation and loneliness can often lead to mental and physical deterioration.
Over the past two and a half years as a Senior Move Manager, I have seen first-hand the positive effects of social connection. We have had clients who’s spouse has passed away leaving them in a house full of memories that can sometimes feel overpowering and overwhelming. We help them sort through those memories, keeping the most cherished items, and then move into a new home that offers more social interaction. The difference in their demeanor, outlook and even the clothes they wear has been profound. All of a sudden there is a light in their eyes and joy in their heart.
I’ve found the connections I make with our clients has had a positive effect on my life, too. I have met remarkable people who have lived the most interesting lives. They have gone through difficult times in their personal lives as well as difficult times in the history of our country. But by having strong ties to family and friends, they are resilient, positive and engaged in living.
So, take the time to call your mom, hug a friend, or just be nice to someone at the grocery store. Social connection will make a difference in your life.