Happiness is a relative term for most people, and its meaning widely varies from person to person as well. Happiness can be found in hobbies, travel, wealth, family, friendships, or in many other places. But did you know that research suggests there is a strong tie between social bonding and a person’s long-term physical and mental health?
In 1938, Harvard University began a study which tracked 724 men who came from a variety of backgrounds – from rich to poor, educated to uneducated. They began by interviewing each man about their life and medically examining their blood work and brains as well, and continued this process every two years. Now, the surviving participants are in their 90s, for the most part, and the findings have proven to be very intriguing.
According to Robert Waldinger, professor of psychology and the fourth director of the Harvard study, 75 years of research has compiled fairly solid clues that lead to a couple of conclusions: people who are challenged with physical problems often experience unhappiness in later years; people who are physically healthier and have strong social bonds tend to be physically and mentally healthier in the long-term.
Even though an argument can be made that making friends at any age is difficult, consider the various social stages of a person’s life. During school years, you are surrounded by people who you can form bonds with, and the same applies to post-graduation as you move into a career. But, what happens after retirement when that built-in social network falls away?
This is where an Assisted Living community, like MorningSide of College Park, can play a vital role in long-term happiness. Waldinger suggests that people who make an effort to build new social relationships after retiring are much more likely to live happier lives as they age.
By moving into an Assisted Living community, the isolation that tends to accompany retirement does not impact a person as much. This is due to the design of the structured environment, which facilitates creating new social bonds, while also allowing individuals to find time to themselves.
At MorningSide of College Park, there are many planned activities each month, from physical activities to group outings. Seniors can further bond over games, meals, movies, worship, and much more. Even a person who has never considered himself to be a “social butterfly” may spread his social wings by finding common ground with another resident during a meal or activity. While moving into an unfamiliar place may be daunting at first, most residents relay that they feel as if they genuinely belong with their new “family” after the first few weeks.
A healthy balance of social interaction and physical activity found in an Assisted Living community can be the key to happiness that many aging seniors search for after retirement. It can also be the key to living a longer life, both mentally and physically.
To learn more about MorningSide of College Park, call (844) 511-3456.
Written by Kristen Camden