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Friendships forever

Active social life contributes to healthy aging

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October 12th, 2017
Louise and Jim Gotch have made many new friends since moving to Fox Run two years ago.

Louise and Jim Gotch have made many new friends since moving to Fox Run two years ago.

 

To maintain good health, you know you need to exercise, eat a balanced diet, and stay on top of preventive screenings. But did you know that the time you spend playing cards with friends or going out for dinner with other couples could also contribute to your health and longevity?

It’s true. In fact, a ten-year study in Australia found that people with large circles of friends were 22% less likely to die during the study period than people with fewer pals. 

Another study, conducted in Sweden, found that lack of social support was as important a risk factor for heart attack and fatal heart disease as smoking. 

And in 2008, Harvard researchers said that friendship even supports brain health as we get older.

New home, new friends

Kathleen Lange, social work manager at Fox Run, says living at the Erickson Living community in Novi, Mich., makes it easier for older adults to form and maintain friendships. The community has more than 150 resident-run clubs and committees as well as special events throughout the year. Plus, Lange says they host many activities specifically for new community members such as cocktail parties, lunches, and orientations.

“Residents are also provided an ambassador [someone who lives at Fox Run], when they first move in who helps them meet new people, joins them for lunch or dinner, and joins in activities with them,” Lange says. 

“The ambassador also orients them to the Fox Run community by literally walking from one clubhouse to another and pointing out even the smallest details that will help them feel more comfortable,” she continues. “From there, the ambassador and new community member may become longtime friends, and the ambassador continues to be a great source of information.”

Healthy outcomes

The close proximity of neighbors at Fox Run contributes to its community members’ good health, Lange says, pointing to research that shows solid friendships promote brain health and help people more effectively deal with stress, make better lifestyle choices, and recover more quickly from illness. 

“When time is spent with friends, you have great conversation, caring, and support during hard times and laugh-out-loud moments during good times,” Lange says. “I believe that one of the most important reasons to move to Fox Run is to build relationships that develop into long-lasting friendships.

Louise Gotch and her husband Jim moved to Fox Run about two years ago, and they have made many new friends at the community. Louise says making friends at Fox Run is as easy as going to dinner each night at one of the on-site restaurants.

“We both saw the opportunity to meet people when we opted to sit with different folks at dinner,” Louise says. “One of our new neighbors sought us out to play Sequence [a card game] and we met several new couples.”

Active minds are happy minds

In addition to informal interactions like chatting over dinner, there are many organized activities that provide opportunities to form friendships with likeminded neighbors who share their interests. Dozens of clubs and committees bring people together based on their hobbies whether they enjoy singing, photography, gardening, woodworking, golf, or any other activity. 

Jim belongs to the camera club, plays bocce, serves on the entertainment committee, and enjoys working in the on-site hobby shop. Louise belongs to the Unfinished Objects craft group as well as the Yarncrafters. She also works on the election committee for the Resident Advisory Council. 

“We feel it is important to socialize, as it keeps our minds active,” Louise says. “When you have others to consider, it leaves little time to think about yourself.” 

The people who live at Fox Run come from all walks of life and have had a range of different careers and life experiences making for a rich and diverse resident population. Louise says she and Jim have met many interesting people at Fox Run.

“They have added to our education about cultures, religions, geography, and political situations,” she says. “We hope in some way we have added to their education as well. We are very happy here and hope to remain so for many years.”

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