Close Friendships/Social Networks

by | May 13, 2020 | Longevity, Caregiving

We are all social creatures at heart. The simple act of good conversation with a close friend can offer acceptance, understanding, compassion and even an occasional wake-up call when necessary. Those who regularly interact with their friends and peers are often the happiest and the healthiest, especially when social connections are maintained and preserved over the course of a lifetime.

A study in the journal, “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences” showed that older people who are happy have a 35 percent lower risk of dying over a five-year period than unhappy people. That study included 3,853 people ages 52 to 79. Additionally, it is believed that personality is tied to life span.

“Happiness could be a marker of some other aspect of people’s lives which is particularly important for health,” study researcher Andrew Steptoe, a professor at University College, London, told The Telegraph. “For example, happiness is quite strongly linked to good social relationships, and maybe it is things like that that are accounting for the link between happiness and health.”

Social Networks provide an extra benefit toward extending age. According to “The Longevity Project,” those who have a large social network and good social relations, lived the longest. It was also revealed that those that enjoy helping others achieved even greater longevity when combined with good social relations.

In an article published in Psychology Today, entitled “Social Connectivity Drives the Engine,” author, Christopher Bergland shares his findings. “There is a direct connection between social isolation, loneliness, and a potential downward spiral towards poor health.” John Cacioppo is a University of Chicago social psychologist and neuroscientist who studies the biological effects of loneliness. Cacioppo has found that loneliness is linked to dramatic increases in the stress hormone cortisol, hardening of the arteries (which leads to high blood pressure), inflammation in the body, and can diminish executive function, learning, and memory.

We are all require social connectivity to maintain good health and longevity. Although Facebook and other social media websites do provide a digital interface to our social contacts, it is important that we also make a conscious effort to nurture our human bonds and sense of community. It is the face-to-face contact and intimate human connections that engage our biological systems to preserve our well-being. Strive for every method of communication that keeps you connected and engaged with close friends through multiple forms of communication. Make use of the internet to stay in touch when physical interaction isn’t possible.

While you’re browsing your way through the web to post your latest photos or plot your next big adventure, consider using the resources at your disposal to stay abreast of your health. Apparently, there are proven benefits for older adults using the internet as a source of information to help prevent cancer and other diseases. A pro-active approach to your health can include keeping up-to-date on the latest medical advances and helping to assess your own health-related issues. Join health-oriented groups and frequent websites you trust to gain an on-going grasp of products, policies and the latest advances that can directly affect your health. Add your name to the membership list of the sites you are attracted to in order to network with others with similar life events and to stay updated on changes that most affect you. Discover the benefits of social networking by opening the door to mutual online acquaintances that can eventually lead to real friendships. Of course, exercise some common sense if you encounter someone with aggressive behavior or that doesn’t enhance your friendly side.

A new study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, collected data from men and women aged 50 or older and finds that those who use the internet are more likely to participate in screening for colorectal cancer, participate in physical activities, eat healthy, and smoke less, compared with those who do not use the internet.

To ensure your online experience is pleasant, opt out of any websites that request too much personal information, such as your driver’s license number, Social Security number, bank or credit card information. If you decide to let your fingers do the shopping online, make sure identity-theft security measures are in place before sharing your account numbers. Avoid using a debit card to make online purchases, as those charges are harder to contest if a purchase goes wrong or gets damaged or lost during delivery.

An on-line support system includes good friends and family, and is one of the perks of maintaining an on-line presence that didn’t even exist for most of us a decade ago. Make good use of the technology that keeps you connected to the ones that matter. New stories emerge every day about life-saving scenarios that have occurred as a result of instant chat or social networking, giving us all a good reason to stay connected.