An ongoing Harvard Study that began in 1938 and still continues today finds that, for the elderly, living a happy, fulfilled life isn’t about great genes or money; it’s all about relationships. As a home care giving agency for Bay Area seniors, we already know the correlation between relationships and better health and happiness – and how loneliness can work against seniors.
The Harvard Study began nearly 80 years ago as a grant study following more than 275 sophomores throughout their lives, some of which are still living. Today, many of the descendants of the original participants, including their children, children’s spouses, and even grandchildren, are participating in the ongoing study.
Ultimately, the study revealed that what keeps people going and enjoying better health, even as they grow older, is strong relationships. Psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital and director of the study, Robert Waldinger, said that caring for relationships is a type of care that’s just as important as taking care of your body and health. In fact, those who were the healthiest at 80 years old were those who were happy and satisfied with their relationships in their 50s. Strong, happy relationships not only contribute to health and happiness, but also delay physical and mental decline.
The study also found that loneliness or isolation is deadly. Relationships include not only those with spouses or partners, but also those with children, grandchildren, and even close friends. For many seniors who are lonely and do not have close relationships, living becomes depressing and unhealthy. Those who do not have strong bonds or relationships with others tend to have more physical and mental issues. Among the men who participated in the Harvard Study, it was found that those who lived the happiest, healthiest lives were those who were physically active, had stable marriages, maintained a healthy weight and abstained from smoking, while drinking alcohol only in moderation.
Isolation is unfortunately an issue for many seniors in the Bay Area and around the nation. It seems that the result of this nearly 80-year long study is that, above all, strong relationships are key to a long, happy life and the best possible physical and mental health.
At Care Indeed, our goal is to help seniors and their families by providing care and companionship. We understand that families are busy, and that caregivers of aging parents often need a helping hand. Our in-home care services are designed to work for your lifestyle, whether you need respite care, hospital sitting, or help caring for a loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s. Whatever your needs, we provide caring, compassionate solutions to those in Walnut Creek, Menlo Park, San Jose and cities throughout the Bay Area.