Friendship and ageingAugust 10, 2018
Guest article by Dr David Rosenwax AM
I address the most important attribute to human happiness besides love, and that is Friendship. This encompasses many stages, depending upon our age. Friendship is a relationship of mutual affection between people which is stronger than mere association. Friendship has been studied in academic fields and various theories of friendship have been proposed. Although friendships come in many forms, certain characteristics are present in friendship, such as kindness, love, sympathy, honesty, loyalty, mutual understanding and compassion, enjoyment of each other’s company, trust, and the ability to be oneself, express one’s feelings, and make mistakes without fear of judgment from the friend.
Friendship in adulthood provides companionship, as well as emotional support, and contributes positively to mental well-being and improved physical health. The majority of adults have an average of two close friends. Numerous studies suggest that friendships and other supportive relationships enhance self-esteem.
Older adults continue to report high levels of personal satisfaction in their friendships as they age. This satisfaction usually leads to an increased ability to accomplish activities of daily living, as well as a reduction in cognitive decline, decreased instances of hospitalisation, and better rehabilitation outcomes. Research within the past four decades consistently found that older adults reporting the highest levels of happiness and general wellbeing also report strong, close ties to numerous friends.
As family responsibilities and vocational pressures lessen, friendships become more important. Among the elderly, friendships can provide links to the larger community, serve as a protective factor against depression and loneliness, and compensate for potential losses in social support previously given by family members. Especially for people who cannot go out as often, interactions with friends allow for continued societal interaction. Additionally, older adults in declining health who remain in contact with friends show improved psychological well-being.
We recognise the importance of fostering friendships amongst our community and would like to encourage you all to attend our various activities, and meet your peers in a friendly environment.
“One of the most beautiful qualities of true friendship is to understand and to be understood”.
About the author: Dr David Rosenwax AM is President of the Centre on Ageing. This article was first published in the Centre on Ageing newsletter, March-April 2018.
At The Junction Neighbourhood Centre we offer many opportunities for older people to make new social connections, in the Randwick and Waverley LGA (phone 9349 8200) and the City of Sydney LGA (phone 8570 1400). You just need a myagecare number!