Companionship and senior health is often underrated in its importance, yet our need to interconnect with others has been documented in numerous studies, and some have claimed that companionship is a natural anti-depressant. Sister studies have shown that depression is often linked to social isolation or a feeling of loneliness. Feeling connected to someone is probably why pet owners typically outlive non-pet owners. Being affiliated with living things, outside of ourselves, is very important to our overall health and well being.
So how can you combine companionship and senior health to enhance your life? Spend time with friends and acquaintances that make you feel happier and more alive. Getting out is often difficult for seniors, but just taking a short walk with your neighbor can help. Or have someone drive you to a local park or another natural setting. If you cannot do that, then simply spend some time outside in your own garden or yard. Taking time to observe and be part of a natural setting can also help you feel linked with life. It’s all part of feeling connected with the rest of the world, whether than connection comes by way of nature, a pet or people. Out of those connections, though, the most important is to have a connection with people, and a variety of studies continue to demonstrate the importance of companionship and senior health:
- In July 2008 the Archives of Internal Medicine reported that having a companion accompany a senior to medical visits contributes to greater satisfaction and quality of care, especially among those in poor health.
- A March 2009 study at the University of Chicago shows that social isolation has serious effects on the physical health of seniors – and loneliness in addition to isolation causes a decline in mental health as well.
We’ve all heard how playing games can keep our minds sharp. In October 2010, A University of Michigan study compared memory test scores between those who played daily games or puzzles to those who simply engaged in social interaction. What they found is that 10 minutes of talking to someone actually improves your memory skills. In fact, social interaction was as effective on memory skills as playing games daily, and gamers memory scores have consistently tested higher than those who do not play games.
Staying healthy both physically and mentally requires more than just medication. Enhance your health by adding some companionship to your life. Shelia Korn, of Love 2 Live, also has written an informative article about how important companionship and senior health. She talks about its influence on both mental and physical health and we encourage you to read it. Learn why we all need companionship in our lives.