The Value of Friendships in Living Healthier Lives In Our Later Years

friendships2When Eleanor Skolnick met Dr. Howard Woocher at the Tradition of the Palm Beaches, the independent living residence on the MorseLife campus 10 years ago, she asked him if he would dance with her at an upcoming party.  He responded that he was still mourning the passing of his wife and could not at that time, but encouraged her to ask him in six months.  At a July 4th party, she asked him again, and they have been loving partners ever since at the age of 94 and 101 respectively.

Eleanor noted that all of the years later, they are both fairly active, going to events and outings and getting exercise.  “While we don’t live together, we watch out for each other, even going to doctor’s appointments together and keeping tabs on each other,” she said.    Their children and grandchildren are also grateful to each of them for the love and support they show each other.

While they are slowing down a bit in the later years, Eleanor and Howard are “poster children” for demonstrating the health benefits of friendships and socialization at later age.  “We found each other when we were both alone, and we have made each other happy throughout these years,” she said.

There are multiple studies that have shown that people who have satisfying relationships with family and friends are happier, having few health issues and live longer.  Conversely, isolation can lead to depression in many people and later-life cognitive decline as well as increase mortality.

Judy Uzzi, social worker and program director for MorseLife Care Management which provides guidance, counsel and support to aging seniors, notes that there are many ways for seniors to become less isolated.

If you live in a 55+ community or senior residence, take advantage of activities, including outings and events.  MorseLife’s Neighbor2Neighbor program maintains office hours and coordinates such events and activities at over 19 senior communities throughout Palm Beach County.  Uzzi notes that Neighbor2Neighbor even coordinates a volunteer program at each community that ensures that provides among other things visits to ensure people are feeling well.

 

Join a local senior center or club.

If you drive, volunteer to be a “senior companion” to those less fortunate and homebound or deliver meals through area meals on wheels program, such as that offered by MorseLife.  Helping people can provide great rewards and lasting friendships.

The key to reducing isolation is to be engaged, noted Uzzi.  “The more seniors get out in their communities – even out of the comfort zones – the better their lives become,” she said.   “I remember a client a number of years ago who felt terrible seeing her frail husband just sitting in front of the television all day until she made the decision to move with him to an assisted living residence.  In his last years, he recalled, he found new friends, never had a meal alone, participated in activities, and overall got more enjoyment out of life.”

Uzzi notes that she is not saying that the only solution to reducing isolation is to move to a senior residence.  “The point I am making is that no matter where you live, you can always find a club, an activity, and people around to get you more engaged for the better!” she said.

 

This is a message from MorseLife Home Care.  For more information, call (561) 616-0707 or link to www.morselife.org.

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