Peter Yurek author of Aging in Place and Friendship
“The older you get, the better you get. Unless you’re a banana.” — Betty White I don’t know about you, but I think this is also true when it comes to friendship! While developing and maintaining friendships can be challenging for older adults, it’s important to understand their connection to one’s health. When my parents were aging in place (i.e. growing older, in your own home, and community safely and independently), I saw firsthand how good friendships played a significant role in their health and happiness. In fact, because they nurtured and maintained good friendships, they lived longer, happier, healthier lives — more independently. Having supportive friends can be the key to successfully aging in place. A good neighbour, who was also a senior, used to clear my parents’ driveway with her snowblower. Other friends would visit, take them on drives and to play cards. Friends kept them occupied and spirited. Unfortunately, sometimes many older adults find it hard to find and maintain friends. Caring for family, jobs, hobbies and interests, or changes in life may have caused their old friendships to drift apart. As we age, it’s important to keep in mind that building and maintaining friendships take effort, but they’re an investment that’s worth it. It’s better for your health, and your ability to age in place, to have close nurtured relationships that will validate you. As with most things in life, quality is more important than quantity. Now you may be wondering how to forge such friendships that will help grow your support system? First, start with your current social network. Think about who you’ve interacted with that has made an impression. If someone stands out, reach out, extend an invite, or reconnect! Be social, go places, broaden your likelihood for happiness. Also, try reviving some of your old friendships. Recently, I had dinner with a handful of old school friends. It was a lot of fun! Finally, when you nurture and build strong friendships, it will help create a brighter, longer, healthier life and you will age in place happily and gracefully. In the immortal words of Betty White, “The older you get, the better you get. Unless you’re a banana.” By: Peter Yurek, BScPhm