Good Friends Are Key to Senior Health and Wellness

Unlocking well-being and longevity: how seniors thrive through social connections

Senior friends taking a selfie at dinner time in the dining roomSenior friends taking a selfie at dinner time in the dining room

We all sense that life is better with others, but researchers have confirmed it: Community and connection are crucial for good health.

Dr. Chad Snyder, Clinical Director of telehealth provider MeMD®, says “Building social networks and participating in social activities are like exercise for your brain.” Just like exercising muscles keeps you physically fit, exercising the mind is key to longevity.

The science of socializing

A strong social network has countless benefits for mental and physical health. As Dr. Snyder says, participating in social activities “… helps reduce stress, increases hormones that decrease anxiety, and increases feelings of well-being that lead to increased confidence and self-esteem.”

At Holiday by Atria, we pride ourselves on bringing people together and promoting wellness in older adults. Research shows that one of the advantages of senior living communities is the community itself.

A 2019 survey of senior living communities found that 55% of residents reported a higher quality of life than they experienced before moving to a senior living residence. People living in senior communities were also two to five times more likely to take part in exercise and social events, spend time with family and friends, and dine with others when compared to those who lived alone.

It’s not just good to be around others, though – it’s hard on your mind and body to be alone. Scientists estimate that loneliness is as dangerous as smoking 15 cigarettes a day and can take a toll on your immune system. Unlike smoking, however, loneliness isn’t a habit you can kick alone.

A recipe for connection

There’s a lot more to maintaining good health than just eating your fruits and veggies, though dining with others is part of it. Studies have shown that people eat more vegetables when they share a meal with friends instead of eating alone, and scientists have found many more benefits to group dining.

Listening to a friend’s story over a meal makes it easy to eat more slowly, which is good for digestion. Social dining also triggers the production of hormones that improve mood, digestion and cognition.

At Holiday, quick, low-nutrition options aren’t so tempting because fresh, healthy dishes are prepared for you – and we take care of the cleanup. Holiday residents enjoy:

  • Three freshly prepared meals daily
  • Full-service dining
  • Menus prepared by a local culinary team
  • Plenty of good company to share meals with

Relationships don’t just help you eat better – eating together also makes your relationships stronger. Whether grabbing coffee with a friend or coming together for dinner, it’s clear that gathering around food is a healthy tradition.

Lifelong learning

Research shows that hobbies and other activities help seniors reduce their risk of illness, feel happier, and even live longer. Community living makes it easy to pick up new passions, and retirement is the perfect time to follow your curiosity. Gardening, family genealogy, birdwatching or even starting that novel is possible now that you’re free of work obligations.

Now is the time to discover new interests and fun ways to stay active. Holiday’s Engage Life® program offers a daily calendar of events designed to bring people together. Every day is an opportunity for residents to foster connection, creativity and fitness.

Healthy social engagement is more than having a packed calendar, though. When Holiday residents were surveyed, the results showed that feeling connected socially isn’t just about keeping busy with activities – it’s about the meaningful relationships they’ve been able to build with peers in their community and the local town.

Living better, together

We know that life is better when you share it with friends. That’s why the Holiday lifestyle is designed with connection in mind. With locations across the country, we’ve got a lot of good neighbors.

Find a Holiday residence near you – your friends are waiting.

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