Your support system is complex and unique. It’s nearly impossible to prove how much your social life affects your health. But, generally, the more social ties you have, the better you’ll feel emotionally and physically. Social networks provide:
—Protection against depression — A close friend or confidant, with an ear to bend and a shoulder to cry on, can help you thrive in spite of life’s stresses. Without a close friend, you’re more likely to have trouble coping with difficult situations, such as an illness, and become depressed.
—Greater independence — In a study of people 85 and older, those living in their own homes were more likely to have family members nearby. Almost all of them said they had at least one close friend. And most had daily conversations with someone.
–If you stay involved in social activities such as church, a senior center or volunteer activities, you’re more likely to remain independent.
—Help with daily tasks — Research shows people help people they know well, spend time with and like. For most older people, these helpers are family members.
People who have help with the practical aspects of living report their lives as satisfying, an important component of emotional health.
(Source: Mayo Clinic, on the web at www.mayoclinic.com)