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The Importance of Building Meaningful Relationships as We Age

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GP_Porch-2661.jpgWhile there is a lot of advice out there about how to stay healthy as we age, the importance of maintaining meaningful relationships is often overlooked. According to The University of Michigan’s National Poll on Healthy Aging, more than a third of seniors surveyed said they sometimes experience a lack of companionship, with many also acknowledging feelings of isolation.

Establishing positive social relationships with friends and family is vital to a person’s physical, mental and emotional health. No matter what stage of life you are in, devoted friendships can have a real impact on overall quality of life and health. In fact, research suggests adults who remain socially active as they age often experience more mental stimulation and even increased physical activity, reducing feelings of loneliness and isolation.

While regular social interaction is beneficial at any age, research has shown older adults are particularly receptive to the positive effects of spending time with family and friends. Family members and friends can increase these interactions as easily as calling an older loved one more regularly or getting together for a weekly meal.

Additionally, there are countless ways for seniors themselves to remain socially active and create new friendships later in life.

Tips for Seniors to Stay Socially Active

  • Embrace Passions. Reflect on your interests and consider ways to enjoy those pastimes with others. Many older adults find they have more free time, which is a perfect justification to immerse yourself in a favorite hobby. No matter what your passion is, there is likely a way you can share it with others and connect while doing it.
  • Stay Active. Joining a gym is a wonderful way to stay active while simultaneously meeting new people. Bring a friend as an accountability partner and use the time to build upon an existing relationship. If you’d prefer to stay closer to home, invite neighbors to join you on a leisurely stroll around the block.
  • Volunteer in the Community. Whether working at a food pantry, serving as a greeter at a local hospital, or helping at church – you can meet new people and form long-lasting relationships through volunteering. In addition to nonprofits, many local institutions like museums, zoos and other landmarks welcome older adults to apply for volunteer positions as welcoming guests or guides.
  • Continue Learning. You’re never too old to benefit from learning something new. Explore continued learning opportunities hosted at local civic centers or community colleges. There is a variety of classes – from literature and history to cooking and painting.

There are many ways older adults can form meaningful connections with others, whether through joining a club, finding a new hobby or attending a class. Find something you enjoy that allows you to create new relationships and maintain current ones. These connections can help everyone, especially seniors, on the path to a happy and healthy life.

For more information on how to create meaningful relationships and stay socially active later in life, visit

Author: Lakelyn Hogan

Lakelyn Hogan is Gerontologist and Caregiver Advocate for Home Instead Senior Care. Lakelyn has been with Home Instead for five years, starting in the local franchise working one-on-one with seniors and caregivers. Now, her role at the Global Headquarters is to educate professionals, families and communities on Home Instead’s services and the issues older adults face. In partnership with the American Society on Aging, Lakelyn facilitates a monthly webinar series for professionals in the aging field. She also hosts monthly family caregiver live chats with Alzheimer’s and dementia experts from across the country.


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