Friends and family can sometimes be a real pickle! Love them or hate them, our family is where we come from. The people we grow up with nurture us to become who we are. Our family is central to our feelings of belonging and security. Our family nourishes us not only physically but also emotionally and spiritually.
Everybody needs friends, too. Next to our family, friends are among the most important people in our lives. Especially for those who live alone or far away from their biological family. We share interests, discover new things, and support each other during trials and tribulations with them. The best friend or the reliable good buddy often takes the place of a missing partner. Friends are a kind of "family of choice.”
As we grow older, we move about, we study in different schools, work in different jobs, and travel to different destinations. We meet friends, lose them, fall in love, fall out of love. Our lives are a never-ending procession of people connecting with us in various ways and times. Thanks to technology, even if we’re a thousand miles away from our best friend, true love, or favorite sibling, we can still reach out and touch someone. It’s not important how we connect; it’s important that we do.
“We may not be together physically, but we can still make connections, and it’s vital that we do so on a regular basis.” Care.com
And reach out we should. The influence of friends and family has a significant effect on our well-being. If they are the right contacts for us. Social contact strengthens our immune system and protects us from depression. It can also improve our ability to deal with stress. It may not often be easy in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, but time with our family and friends is valuable time well invested.
Honestly, we might not share the same interests with friends and family the same way we did growing up. The demands of work, raising children, and a hundred other things distract and change us. We get it! A lot of the rhythm of our lives changes, too. Are you still bowling every Wednesday night? Are you still meeting with the PTA every other Friday? Probably not. Sometimes we have to find creative ways to connect with friends and family online and off. Life goes on.
“Growing older means many of the routines that brought regular, meaningful social interaction in the past — such as going to work or raising a family — are no longer in place. This can be especially true for older people who are living (alone).” Everyday Health
Your community has probably changed a lot since you were a kid. Regardless of where you now find yourself, your community needs you. If you can’t connect with a close friend or family member, you may find a new connection right on your doorstep. Whether it be a retirement home, or your new apartment or house, you are surrounded by people. Help as a volunteer, or find out how volunteers can help you. Find a club. Found a club! Take the first step.
Age is one of those things. The ravages of time gnaw away at the face of others in particular. You yourself, of course, feel much younger. Perhaps reunions are so popular because most participants succumb to this self-delusion about the others. If you ask around, you will hear from a surprisingly large number of people that they attend reunions regularly, although the rhythm varies and becomes shorter and shorter with increasing age.
In our digital world, you can often attend reunions virtually. Reunions can be lots of fun. Social media has made it a lot easier to keep in touch or re-establish contact with people from our past as well. Take the chance!
If you haven’t got a reunion to attend, why not prepare for the next one? There are probably a zillion things you can either teach yourself or want to learn. So much has changed since we were kids. Tracking, making campfires, collecting stamps, speaking Latin -- some things are becoming lost arts only we know! On the other hand, there are many new things to learn, and we have time to learn them. Schools and clubs are a great way to connect and a chance to make new friends.
Sure, we’re all techies these days, but sometimes the journey is as important as the destination. Slowing down means we’re not going to miss anything. Connecting with friends and family can mean writing a letter to our grandchild, biking to the park for a round of tennis, picking up the phone to call our sibling, walking to the bus stop for a shopping trip, or driving with friends to the next city – and meeting other friends. Exercising our hands, legs, lungs, minds, eyes – old school means a tactile connection with things. Kick it up a notch and arrange a potluck dinner. Why not? Old school is still cool!
We left this to the end because tech is like, so yesterday, right? You probably already have a smartphone full of apps. A virtual happy hour is just a click away!
Technology can help us stay connected with family and friends, so it’s important we take advantage of the tools available. Such as social media, smartphones, and websites. Access to digital skills keeps us in the community when we may not be physically present. Without these skills, we may become disengaged and distanced from our social circle. Active participation in society - online and offline - is possible for everyone. It’s not a question of keeping up with technology - it’s just a question of participating.
There are so many ways to stay connected with friends online. The world is your oyster, and it’s probably sitting in your hand as you read this.
“A study by William Chopik, a professor at Michigan State University, found ‘greater technology use was associated with better self-rated health, fewer chronic conditions, higher subjective well-being and lower depression.’” Comfort Keepers
Who will you be connecting with today? We’d love to know. Then go ahead and share this with your friends. Want to read more articles like this? We invite you to subscribe to our newsletter, where we send weekly emails with helpful and fun articles.
Senior Living FYI
Go Live Your Best Life!