One aspect of getting older that many don’t realize is happening to them is the loss of social connections. Over time, friends retire and move, others pass on, and mobility issues limit opportunities for socialization. Suddenly older adults can find themselves isolated and alone. In the Blue Zones, where people live the longest, social connections are part of life from the start and are considered one of the Power 9® keys to longevity and successful aging.
Find your tribe – In the Blue Zones, people create or are simply born into social circles that support them and share their lifestyles and behaviors. These social connections serve them throughout their lives by keeping them engaged with others and the community, and at the same time, lowering the risks of dementia, high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and other health problems, many of which are almost nonexistent in the Blue Zones.
So how do older adults go about finding the right tribe? The old adage “birds of a feather, flock together” is a great way to think about it. The best friends to have for successful aging have positive attitudes and habits, share hobbies and other interests, and generally enjoy being together. One way to find a tribe is through volunteering for a cause you believe in and getting to know other like-minded volunteers. Or try joining a club or taking a class or workshop. In independent living it’s especially easy because friends are all around and daily activities and events are designed to bring people together socially for successful aging. Find out more about improving social connections in our blog, “Break the Ice: Tips for Making New Friends in Your New Retirement Community Home.“
Keep the faith – Sharing faith is another way older adults can increase their social connections and reap the successful aging benefits that go along with belonging to a faith-based community. Also one of the Power 9® tenets, being part of a faith community is a common denominator in the Blue Zones and according to the Blue Zones article, “Religion May Reduce Stress and Increase Longevity.,” research found that attending religious services, even as little as once a year, does indeed benefit successful aging. Being part of a faith community can also help older adults meet new people with shared interests and build their tribe.
Family first – Putting an emphasis on family is another Power 9® principle in the Blue Zones that is not only good for overall health and well-being but is another way to maintain social connections and support successful aging. Multi-generational families are common and even those who live apart make it a point to spend time together as often as possible. In the Blue Zones, younger family members depend on the help and wisdom of their elders and in turn, elders help raise children, and provide companionship, support, and knowledge so the entire family flourishes.
According to the lifesitenews.com article, “Research shows close family relationships help you live longer,” a research study by the University of Toronto School of Public Health found that those in the study who maintained strong family ties were less likely to die within five years than those who didn’t, and those who listed more family connections than others were even less likely to die within five years.
Wine with friends – In all but one of the Blue Zones, moderate daily consumption of wine with friends, family, and food, has more health benefits than not drinking at all. With an emphasis on moderation, one to two glasses of wine each day, particularly red wine, offer a range of benefits which according to the study “Wine: An Aspiring Agent in Promoting Longevity and Preventing Chronic Diseases,” can include both prevention and treatment of heart disease, cognitive decline, cancer, and depression. Enjoying a glass of wine with good friends and family is just one more way to keep social connections intact, make new ones and promote successful aging. Cheers!
Of course, strong social connections are just one part of the successful aging equation and at Sonrisa Senior Living we also prioritize exercise, great nutrition, and engaging activities to help our residents remain vital and healthy. Check out our free Successful Transitions Guide for more information about the Blue Zones. To learn more about all that Sonrisa has to offer in luxury independent living, contact us today!