In case you missed the excellent article about elder friendships in today’s New York Times (12/30/16), I think you’ll want to read it. The author, Paula Span, writes an excellent ongoing column for the paper called, The New Old Age.
In this article, Loneliness Can be Deadly for Elders; Friends Are the Antidote, Span notes that while aging invariably leads to the loss of many past friendships (through death, illness and moves), advancing age don’t suspend the need for these vital relationships. She cites several studies documenting the adverse consequences of isolation and loneliness.
In fact, as we age, we may be in greater need of friends than ever before. Friends not only meet emotional needs but also logistical ones, whether it’s checking up on each other when one doesn’t answer the phone; lending something from their pantries when someone doesn’t don’t have sufficient energy (or transportation) to get to the supermarket on their own or accompanying each other on doctor’s visits.
Based on research and anecdotal information, she makes several important points about elder friendships:
1) It’s never too late to make new friends.
2) Because elder folks are less tolerant of superficial friendships, relationships with their peers tend to be more intimate and honest.
3) On the other hand, older people are better able to overlook or move past personality imperfections that often bog down friendships among younger people.
4) Older adults have the advantage of being more likely to have honed the people skills they need to maintain strong friendships.
Loved reading about the “upsides” of elder friendships! Can you think of any others?
Previously on The Friendship Blog:
- Friendship and Aging: Is losing interest in friends an aging thing?
- Finding upbeat friends when you’re over 50
Category: Friendship and aging