For all those dreading getting older and desperately trying to hold onto their youth – newsflash! Being old isn’t as bad as you think, in fact, new research has found that elderly Americans are also the happiest Americans.
The study was led by Chicago-based sociologist, Yang Yang and consisted of face-to-face interviews with around 28,000 Americans between the ages of 18-88yrs.
The study revealed that the stereotype of the ‘grumpy and lonely’ old people no longer holds true. Older folks in the America are much more socially active than one would assume and this plays a huge role in keeping them happy in life.
Elderly adults benefit from socializing in several ways:
Research by Brigham-Young University found that the negative effects of isolation and loneliness in seniors surpassed those of obesity when it came to longevity of life. Having a tight group of friends provides the elderly with purpose and motivates them to fight whatever illness they may be facing.
Prevents Memory Loss and Alzheimer’s disease
For seniors, socializing with anyone helps them with their health but studies have found that interacting with younger people specifically is most advantageous for them. The university of Arizona has a program which pairs elderly adults with college students. These seniors showed a significantly less cognitive decline and were generally in a happier mood. This is most likely because the interaction with the younger generation makes them feel connected to today’s times and both adults get to learn from one another. Improved cognitive function lowers the risk of developing conditions like Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
It may not seem obvious but the comfort of loved ones helps in relieving physical pain too – well, more like the perception of pain. When you have the support and comfort of loved ones, physical pain is more tolerable. Next time your senior loved one is in physical pain, try holding their hand or giving them a hug, you may not see it but you could be easing their pain.
Boosts Immune System
Research conducted by Carnegie Mellon University found that elderly individuals who were socially active were less susceptible to colds and the flu. The negativity that builds up from isolation and loneliness weakens the immune system and makes you more vulnerable to illnesses.
Lessens the risks of Heart Disease and stroke
Spending time socializing with loved ones reduces blood pressure and inflammation, both of which are major contributors to heart disease and stroke. Other studies also found that simply the interest in activities and being involved in life lessens your chances of stroke and heart disease.
For the elderly, it is important to partake in mentally stimulating activities that keep their brain sharp and their health on point.
It is not impossible to eradicate all distress in the lives of elderly individuals. The deterioration in their physical health in inevitable. They are bound to suffer from aches, experience pain and loss of loved ones but the elderly are generally more content with what they have in life rather than on what they don’t – something that younger Americans struggle with.
An expert on aging from Duke University, Linda George, claims that the elderly learn to lower their expectations as they progress with life. Younger people have high and sometimes unrealistic expectations which lead to them feeling demoralized and unhappy.
Another study conducted by the University of Chicago found that around 75% of individuals between 57-85yrs engaged in social activities at least once a week. These activities included interacting with neighbors, volunteering in community events and participating in religious services (being involved in Church etc.). According to the study, people at the age 80 are twice as likely to be involved in community events in comparison to a 50yr old.
Researchers at the University of Chicago claim that although social circles do shrink as you grow older but the bonds are actually stronger. For elderly adults who wish to continue living a happy and pleasurable life, being socially active is integral to their physical and mental well-being.
Author Bio: Sherley Alaba is an eagle-eyed wordsmith; a writer and translator, always interested in ways which can help individuals (especially youth and women) reach their full creative potential. Her focus has been on writing, producing and editing stories on business, finance, interesting personalities, entrepreneurs, culture, the environment, gastronomy, lifestyle, and social issues.