Close Friendships Help Seniors Stay Connected, Healthy

June 07, 2016

Famous friends Oprah Winfrey and Gayle King have known each other for more than 40 years. In an interview with Barbara Walters, Winfrey said of King, “She is . . . the mother I never had. She is . . . the sister everybody would want. She is the friend that everybody deserves. I don’t know a better person.”

The importance of close friendships and their myriad rewards cannot be overestimated, particularly as we age. Research backs up the idea that connectivity, conversation, and common interests create a more joyful, engaged life as well as increased physical wellness such as lower blood pressure and reduced risk for Alzheimer’s and depression.

Though not as famous as Oprah and Gayle, we asked a few sets of Lexington Square friends how their lives are enriched by having someone in which to confide and share experiences.

Vi and Pat

Vi and Pat became friends at Lexington Square and have enjoyed a friendship that includes having meals together and inviting other residents to join them. “In the dining room,” says Vi, “we get a table for four or six and encourage others to eat with us, especially if they came to Lexington Square alone.”

In addition to sharing a desire to make new residents feel welcome, Vi and Pat sing at Lexington events and enjoy taking trips on the Lexington Square shuttle, visiting destinations such as Chinatown and The Morton Aboretum. Vi sometimes needs a little nudge from Pat when it comes to venturing out as she could easily sink into a good book, and Vi is grateful for Pat’s persuasion. As well as balancing their individual and common interests, the friends have discovered new activities together. “We both learned how to play Mahjong. We have fun.”

Vi and Pat’s friendship has been important during life’s more serious moments, as well. When Pat experienced a health issue, Vi was at her side throughout, offering help and support. “We’re just fortunate that we found each other.”

Nancy and Rosemarie

“Hello, Nancy. I’m Rosemarie.” And with that simple introduction on a Lexington Square shuttle trip to Jewel, a friendship began between Rosemarie and Nancy.

Rosemarie went on to tell Nancy, “If you need any help, you can call me.”

Shortly after meeting, Nancy and Rosemarie began eating meals together. Nancy takes comfort in sharing mealtime and the opportunity to check in with each other. “It’s nice that people notice when you’re not there at breakfast or lunch.”

In addition to dining at Lexington Square – and occasionally enjoying a sandwich at Portillo’s – Nancy and Rosemarie participate in trips to the theater and museum.  Above all, the friends reap the rewards of meaningful conversation. “We’re comfortable talking to each other. It’s good to talk and share.”

Rosemarie and Nancy tell us that their friendship is not grounded in having a lot in common, but rather a bond of caring and concern. Rosemarie sums it up this way: “I think we’re both very independent, but we know we have a friend.”

Pat and Pat

Pat and Pat say that they “just drifted together” as friends about a decade ago, and that their friendship has grown stronger over the last five years. They enjoy spending time at destinations such as The Morton Arboretum and Kendall College – and they share the same hairdresser, which helped them connect. Both Pats agree on what makes their friendship so significant: “I can call her up and tell her anything.”

Marge and Lonnie

Marge and Lonnie share a talent for dancing, especially the Jitterbug and Polka. The longtime friends are so good at it that they performed a routine together at the Lexington Square Talent Show.

Marge and Lonnie share a friendship that spans twenty-five years. They knew each other prior to residing at Lexington Square, with Lonnie moving in first, and Marge following a few years later.  They both enjoy volunteering, playing cards and having dinner each evening with a group of fellow residents. When describing how their friendship enriches their lives, they smile and say, “It’s wonderful to have a friend…someone to depend on.”



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