Family Matters — Cracking the Code to Better Health Outcomes

When it comes to choosing the ideal living environment for older adults, a variety of factors are considered, including safety, convenience, affordability, flexibility and proximity to activities and services that fit your lifestyle. The goal is to surround yourself with the necessary resources to prolong and enhance your quality of life. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to live near those who you hold most dear.

Yes, family matters! They’re the secret to better health outcomes. Here, we reveal some of the reasons why living close to them is so important.

Bonds for Better Health

People who maintain strong relationships with others are 50% more likely to live longer than those who live in isolation. Humans are naturally social beings, which means that the relationships we forge and maintain play a huge role in our health outcomes.

When those needs aren’t meant, it causes an array of negative emotional and physical side effects, including the release of the stress hormone cortisol, which increases one’s heart rate and blood pressure. When this condition becomes chronic, it can lead to other issues such as anxiety, digestive problems, muscle tension, heart disease and high blood pressure, as well as negatively impact the body’s immune system.

On the other hand, nurturing relationships releases oxytocin, which lowers cortisol levels, reduces pain and promotes the growth of new brain cells, as well as endorphins, dopamine and serotonin, which helps improve one’s mood, sleep, digestion and bone health. Those who regularly engage in social activities also naturally boost their short- and long-term memory and allow them to maintain higher levels of cognitive function for longer than their isolated counterparts, putting them at a lower risk for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Maintaining Connections

Across the world, it’s common for older adults to reside with loved ones. In Asia and Africa, 50% of adults 60 and older live with extended family, compared to a mere 6% in the U.S., according to an analysis conducted by Pew Research Center. The study also showed that 27% of U.S. adults 60 and older live alone. In other countries, that statistic is as low as 5%. 

In the U.S., older adults value their independence and don’t want to feel like a burden to their adult adult children. Multigenerational living is not for everyone, but the social interactions that are created by living in close proximity to others is important for all of us to replicate.

Living near family gives older adults connections to the world around them by providing opportunities for them to attend a variety of social engagements, from concerts and sporting events to fundraisers and parties. Being in close proximity also allows people to see each other on a regular basis and participate in more activities, whether it’s an important event or impromptu shopping trip or lunch date. This not only helps older adults avoid feelings of loneliness and isolation, but it also provides opportunities for them to create new, happy memories, which is especially important for those who are struggling with memory issues or depression due to the loss of a loved one.

Family Ties

Social relationships of any kind are valuable, but family connections hold a special and unique importance. People’s social circles naturally change and, as we age, they typically decline. Older adults with strong family ties are part of a reliable, built-in social circle that will never dissipate and, oftentimes, continue to grow as time goes on. These types of stable, dependable ties are especially important for those who start to experience cognitive decline because they provide a sense of comfort, understanding and sense of security.

Being around family also promotes intergenerational bonding, which provides rich learning experiences for people of all ages. Younger people benefit from the guidance, support and life experiences that older generations can offer. Meanwhile, older adults maintain more active lifestyles, cultivate purpose and gain a sense of fulfillment.

The Benefits of Staying Close

Those who are retired and struggling with ways to feel needed also find it beneficial to live near their adult children so they can be available to help them manage their growing households. On the flip side, older adults who stay close to loved ones are more likely to get the support they need to live healthier, more independent lives for a longer period of time. This not only means assistance with activities of daily living, but also management of health conditions. Whether it’s ensuring medications are being taken, doctor’s appointments are being kept or changes to health conditions are being noticed early, all are important factors in maintaining a high quality of life throughout the aging journey.At Upside, our goal is to provide an elevated experience complete with all of the resources older adults need to live a healthy, independent lifestyle, including maintaining connections to those who mean the most to them. Upside offers more than 6,000 independent living communities nationwide — with more being added every day! Meet with an Upside Manager today to find a luxury apartment that fits your needs in an area that you love.

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