While Valentine’s Day has certainly been commercialized in our modern culture, the virtues of all different kinds of love truly are worth celebrating. Enjoying positive relationships is a key for seniors to maintain a high quality of life — a tenet we certainly believe in at the Amsterdam Cares for Rehabilitation and Nursing.
Love is More than Romance
Love is feeling connected, feeling respected and valued by others, and feeling a sense of belonging.
Several studies show having strong physical and emotional connections to a partner, friends, children, and even pets lead to positive effects on a person’s health and well-being.
According to the Encyclopedia of Human Relationships, a stable form of love leads to tangible health benefits.
Harry Reis, co-editor of that publication, told WebMD, “There is very nice evidence that people who participate in satisfying, long-term relationships fare better on a whole variety of health measures.”
Three further studies, which are of particular interest to seniors, back up Reis’s statement.
1. Fewer Visits to the Doctor
According to a study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, married people have fewer doctor’s visits and shorter average hospital stays.
The DHHS theorizes that people who have close relationships with others may keep each other honest or motivate them to maintain healthy habits, thus keeping doctor’s visits and hospitalizations down.
Research from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh found that people who were positive and content — characteristics of people who have healthy relationships with others — were less likely to get sick after being exposed to cold or flu viruses. The study compared people who exhibited positive emotions with those who appeared anxious, hostile, or depressed.
3. Longer Life
The National Health Interview Survey conducted an eight-year study in the 1990s that found people who have meaningful relationships live longer than those who do not. Explanations include mutual support, more of a feeling of belonging and purpose, and warding off feelings of isolation, which can lead to depression and other health issues.
“Loneliness is associated with all-cause mortality,” said Reis. “(Which is) dying for any reason.”
The Power of Love
No matter which stage of life you’re in, positive relationships can enrich your life. But as physical health becomes more important as we age, having purposeful connections is even more vital.