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SUCCESSFUL AGING-Friends can help ward off depression

SUCCESSFUL AGING-Friends can help ward off depression

A recent article in Time magazine, entitled “You Gotta Have Friends,” reported on a study that found Americans are getting lonelier. Changes in housing, transportation, health and even the old neighborhood impact a senior’s ability to maintain relationships with others. Yet we know that well-connected people live longer, happier lives.

SUCCESSFUL AGING-Friends can help ward off depression

Aug14 2006– A recent article in Time magazine, entitled “You Gotta Have Friends,” reported on a study that found Americans are getting lonelier. Changes in housing, transportation, health and even the old neighborhood impact a senior’s ability to maintain relationships with others. Yet we know that well-connected people live longer, happier lives.

You probably are aware of this well-documented cycle: You feel isolated so you get depressed. And when you’re depressed, you don’t have the energy to maintain friendships. So you end up even more isolated, and that makes you more depressed.

Friendships can help you build a buffer against depression; the benefit of increasing social connections is that they will help keep you mentally and physically fit. Friendships also keep you interested in the things that give life meaning and pleasure.

Believe it or not, social isolation is as big a risk factor for premature death as smoking. But you can break the cycle of isolation and depression.

The following are some ways to make friends or begin to be around others. Just be aware that shaping a new life that includes new friends will take some time and energy.

* Take the initiative to contact friends and relatives. Don’t wait for others to call you. Phone calls can be useful, especially if you can’t leave your home.

* Take part in activities planned by senior centers or senior clubs. They offer opportunities to take up a new hobby or meet new people. Give these experiences more than one chance to prove their value to you.

* Explore self-help groups, including those that help you manage chronic conditions.

* Consider talk therapy; ask a counselor to help you identify activities that bring you pleasure.

* Take advantage of volunteer opportunities.

* Go for a walk daily.

* If your first attempts to follow any of these steps aren’t successful, don’t give up.

Depression is NOT a normal part of aging. With the right attitude and assistance, feelings of isolation and depression can be reduced. Once you identify your personal barriers to the happy and independent life you want, you will discover that opening up to new friendships will be the behavior change you needed.

SOURCE:-
2006 Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin

reviewed by Forum Admin 01-23-2011

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