Why Spending Time with Family Is Vital
As we journey through our lives, the significance of family cannot be overstated. This becomes ever more evident as we get older. When we age, we may face challenges to our well-being and happiness, and, when these hurdles occur, our relationships with our relatives can make an enormous difference.
Here are five compelling reasons why spending time with family is absolutely vital for older people.
The importance of social connections
With advancing years, our social circles can shrink. We lose our daily connections to work colleagues and friends when we retire. Losing close friends and loved ones is a sad fact of life, and, of course, changes to our own physical capabilities can also make our world far smaller. The loneliness that often results from all this can become a problem, and it is more than purely an emotional issue. Many studies point to isolation fuelling heart disease, high blood pressure and a weak immune system as well as anxiety and depression.
Spending time with family is a way to mitigate and even eliminate loneliness. When we engage with the people who matter most to us, we create a sense of belonging and purpose. We realise that we’re not alone on our journey. When we spend time with our loved ones, we talk, we share stories and we laugh.
Boosting our physical health
The amount of physical activity we undertake can have a hugely positive impact on our health as we age, and spending time with family can lead to a more active lifestyle. Long afternoon walks, gardening together, kicking a ball in the park with grandchildren or going out for the day together all promote mobility and raise your exercise levels.
Preparing and eating family meals together is also beneficial for our health. Experts say that when we cook together, we eat more healthily, while we have lower stress and feel more satisfied with our lives.
As we age, keeping our minds active is an essential part of maintaining mental health. When we spend time with family, we converse, we share experiences, we’re creative and we even problem-solve! Friendly debates promote intellectual curiosity, and they help us to remember and reminisce. Playing games and puzzles with family members is a fantastic way to keep the brain alert too. It’s not only good for us but for our loved ones too.
Family is incredibly important in tough and challenging times. Ageing naturally involves difficult transitions which can be all the more testing when faced alone. Having a familial support network to lean on gives a sense of stability and increases our feelings of resilience: ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’, as the cliché has it. It can be difficult for some people to open up, even with close family, but doing so can bring emotional relief and bond families tightly together.
Preserving memories and building legacies
Spending time with family allows stories, traditions and memories to be shared. The process creates a bridge which spans the past, present and future. When we reminisce and share family tales, we build an understanding of our shared history, and this fosters a feeling of pride and belonging that brings family members closer together. We reinforce identity and heritage, and we connect one another to our shared legacies. Family members realise that we are part of something bigger than ourselves. Older adults benefit too, as younger relatives bring fresh perspectives to old memories.
There can be no doubt how vital it is to spend time with family. It offers social connection and benefits to our physical health, stimulates our minds, offers a support network and preserves our family histories. Whether through visits, phone calls or online chats, maintaining strong connections with family is a crucial part of the well-being and happiness of older adults.
Family history is the glue that binds us and our loved ones together, and preserving our memories is a crucial part of keeping that history alive and our families close. Writing down memories is a powerful way of protecting them, and it ensures that they won’t be forever lost to the generations to come.
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Written by the LifeBook Memoirs editorial team
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