There are many sentimental songs about the benefits of friendship. The Beatles got by with a little help from their friends.
Bette Midler sang about her best pal being the wind beneath her wings. Dionne Warwick taught us what friends are for. And Queen reminded us friends are the first ones when things turn out bad. In popular music, there’s no shortage of inspiration about the joy of grown-up friendships.
That’s why in our villages around Australia, friendships are forged and cemented minute by minute. Village life creates ties of friendship that serve as added support for residents in their retirement years.
Friendships are about more than enjoying a dose of the social warm fuzzies. Research has found that having a strong network of friends is key to boosting your longevity. A Flinders University study found that strong social networks of friends may be important in ensuring a longer life. The study also discussed how the companionship of friends might encourage healthy behaviours and help ward off depression, boost self-esteem and provide support.
‘People with social connections feel more relaxed and at peace, which is related to better health.’
‘People with social support have fewer cardiovascular problems and immune problems and lower levels of cortisol - a stress hormone,’ says Tasha R. Howe, PhD, associate professor of psychology at Humboldt State University.
‘Why? The evolutionary argument maintains that humans are social animals, and we have evolved to be in groups. We have always needed others for our survival. It's in our genes. Therefore, people with social connections feel more relaxed and at peace, which is related to better health.’
Patricia Brown, a resident at our Classics Residences in Victoria, found an instant community when she moved into the village with her little dog, terrier-cross Toby.
‘When I turned 65, I thought to myself it's about time we had a seachange. The housing market was up, so it was a good time to sell, and I have everything I could possibly need here. People to mix with, security and carers if I ever get sick. I've made some lovely friends,’ she says. ‘I enjoy the environment here very much. Sometimes, you meet people who bring out the best in you. We have a garden plot, and we spend a couple of hours together on Wednesday mornings. There's a bus that takes us on trips to places like DFO and the South Melbourne Market. It's a lot of fun. If that's not enough, there's a wellness centre here, a heated pool, a gym, a brand new cinema and always someone to talk to. As my late mother would say, ‘Everybody's got a story to tell. Listen to them.” You can learn so much from people.’
‘I have everything I could possibly need here. People to mix with, security and carers if I ever get sick. I’ve made some lovely friends.’
Even Toby has found himself in a canine community.
‘Next door lives a little Bichon called Nelly, and she and Toby are starting to become really good friends. When Nelly barks in the morning, Toby will go outside, and I swear it's like they talk to each other,’ says Patricia. ‘I'm very lucky to have lovely neighbours. There's Gary and Lynne on one side, and on the other side is Jackie. She has a little Chihuahua, so there are three dogs living here in a row.’
‘I also spend a lot of time with the people in assisted living. They're older and wiser and very funny. I enjoy being around people who bring out the best in me and with whom I can have a bit of fun. There's a real sense of belonging.’
Making new friends can be daunting, especially later in life. But in a retirement village community, you’ll find plenty of like-minded people ready to welcome you as a new friend. Whether it’s within your village or in the wider community, here are 3 simple steps to boost your social networks:
Get to know your neighbours. They're only next door if you ever need a hand (or a cup of sugar).
Join a class. When you learn a new skill, there's a good chance you'll meet people who share common interests. You might learn to speak a new language or embrace your inner Picasso.
Go online. From Facebook to internet forums, social networks can help you make new friends in Australia and worldwide. While online friendships can be as meaningful and real as ones made in person, it’s important to make online friends the safe way. Limit the amount of personal information you give out, do your research and trust your instincts. As with all new friendships, communication is key, no matter the medium.
Learn more about Classic Residences, VIC.
For more information about the lifestyle and support offered at our retirement villages, call our customer service team on 1800 550 550.
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