Friends and Relationships Can Extend Our Lives

Paul L. Hubbard

By Paul Hubbard
Guest Column

If you feel that making friends as an African American adult and senior citizen isn’t as easy as it used to be, you are right.

As kids, we had recess and gym where we felt free to interact with other kids. In 2023 we are very disconnected with each other. Psychologist and author Jody Carrington says the greatest predictor for overall well-being isn’t how much we drink or smoke, or what we eat. It’s social engagement.

Research by Brigham Young University has shown that loneliness is a major threat to longevity, on par with smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Or being an alcoholic. People who are lonely or socially isolated have a higher risk of impaired immune function, dementia and cardiac death.

On the flip side, healthy friendships can help us age better, cope with stress and live happier, longer lives. A Harvard study found that when a person is happy, their friends and family find happiness. People’s happiness extends up to three degrees of separation according to the Harvard study.

One study, now in its 85th year, has shown that African Americans with strong connection to family, friends, and community are happier, physically heathier and live longer according to a Harvard study and the Washington Post. Relationships help us with social support, practical help, and valuable information.

Many African American Seniors cannot afford computers or broad band access so they cannot connect with others. Adult day care can be their answer.
In order to connect with other African American adults and senior citizens we should be proactive, optimistic, branch out, make a list of possible friends, expect awkwardness, put the time in, embrace vulnerability, practice how to socialize, find group settings like adult day care.

Let’s get friendly and live longer with healthier lives.

“Senior Moment” .
Paul L. Hubbard ,MSW , President Comfort Care Adult Day Care.