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keep good relationships e social connections it should be a matter of public health priority, since this habit brings several health benefits. Scientists explain that relationships help reduce cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension and even depression.
Elderly women who manage to establish social relationships satisfying relationships—whether with family or friends—are less likely to develop chronic illnesses. This is what an Australian mega-study suggests, which followed more than 7,000 volunteers, published in the journal General Psychiatry.
This is one of the first studies to assess the quality of relationships and its association with comorbidities. The researchers evaluated women between 45 and 50 years old who did not have chronic diseases at the beginning of the research, for two decades, and they were monitored every three years.
At the end of the period, women who had lower levels of satisfaction in their relationships had a higher risk of developing problems such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, asthma, osteoporosis, depression and anxiety.
From there, the results were the same for any type of relationship. From the perspective of scientists — social connections in old age should be a priority in public health, as important as the fight against sedentary lifestyle and smoking.
“The study reinforces the importance of not only living with more people, but thinking about the quality of this coexistence”, says the psychologist Valmari Cristina Aranha, assistant secretary of the Brazilian Society of Geriatrics and Gerontology. “There is no point in cultivating hostile or even toxic relationships.”
Relationships and self-care
Much more than spending quality time together, the fact of having good company brings many benefits to health. “The person starts to have a purpose in life, a sense of belonging and a reason to take care of themselves”, says the specialist. This could mean things like going to the doctor and getting checkups on time, cooking something special for someone, sleeping better to feel good.
“It’s a positive spiral. On the contrary, when we are very alone, there can be self-neglect and even increase the risk of depression.”
If in youth there are natural, study or work groups, for example, in mature age they are no longer spontaneous — even more so at a time when family configurations are changing, with families with fewer children or living far away.
Therefore, at this stage, meetings must be planned, without relying only on old relationships, which we carry throughout our lives.
“You have to make an effort, be very flexible, remember that nobody is perfect”, says the psychologist. “O
The positive side is that in old age we have the freedom to choose and be able to do what we like.”
Tips for being a more active senior
- It does not need to be restricted to groups of elderly people: living with several generations is very healthy. The important thing is to seek affinities, respecting differences;
- Don’t be shy about learning something new or starting a new activity. It’s never late. Don’t ask too much of yourself;
- Getting older doesn’t automatically mean more wisdom. We can teach and also learn from others.