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Westminster At Lake Ridge Blog

An illustrious past meets an exceptional future. We are committed to creating meaningful lives of purposeful engagement for every resident as well as those who serve them.

Westminster At Lake Ridge Blog

WLR Blog
Posted: Tuesday, October 20, 2020

The value of friendships as we grow older and ideas for how to make them

Friends can play many roles in our lives. Some we count on when times are troubled. Others are always ready for a good time. One friend may have the best advice to offer when we’re faced with a difficult decision. While another shares our passion for reading historical novels or attending the symphony.

If we’re lucky, we also play one or more of these roles to those we count as friends.

But regardless of how much easier, fun or meaningful life can be with companions, they are also very much needed.

The benefits of having friends

Research points to many advantages when we have people in our lives. It’s been found that those with strong connections to family and friends have a greater chance for longevity than those with few social ties.

Other benefits may include:

  • Better mental and physical health

  • Stronger immune system

  • Improved recovery time from illness

  • Lower blood pressure

  • Decreased risk of heart disease

  • Improved quality of sleep

  • Sharpened memory skills

The role of friends as we grow older

Our friendships enrich us as we grow older. They can help us ward off feeling alone in the world. We get a boost of confidence knowing we have someone in our corner. And there is joy in relishing in the care of those we call friends. Sometimes it just feels better knowing that someone is there.

Friendships might be new or they may have lasted the test of time. Some people consider their family as friends or their friends as family. Those not close to their biological roots, either geographically or emotionally, may find that friends often take their place.

One study found that friendships were better predictors of happiness and good health. Although it’s often assumed that families play the most prominent role as we grow older, that’s not always true. When families become caregivers, the dynamics of the relationship can change and friends often become even more important.

The danger of lacking friendships

Most people are surprised to learn that not having friends can take a physical toll. Our mental health can be compromised without interaction and social connection. And research painted a clear picture a few years ago when it was discovered that having no social connections could be as damaging to a person’s health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

Those without friendships or social activities also had a higher risk for chronic health conditions, including diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and congestive heart failure. Another negative side effect is not having someone who might notice early that a problem is developing or remind us that it’s time for our physical exam.

Why it can be harder to make friends when we’re older

As we go through life, many events can take our friendships away, including loss, those who move to be near family, illnesses and other obstacles. This occurs at the same time that it becomes harder to meet new people. And if we become less active and no longer have those relationships to depend on, there is a danger of social isolation.

When we are working or raising children, there are naturally occurring situations to meet new people and spend time with those who we share similar experiences. But when we retire, it can be harder to find these opportunities.

Ideas for making and keeping your friends

But there are actually quite a few places where you can find the company of others, once you start looking. Consider a few of these:

  • Volunteering at an organization or for a favorite cause

  • Taking a class at your local college

  • Joining a gym and signing up for water aerobics, yoga or stretching classes

  • Becoming more active in your faith community’s social outings

  • Joining a club of interest, such as a book or wine club

  • Working part-time

It’s also very important to take care of the friendships you currently have. It can become a habit to put off calling or seeing a friend until you have the time, but this is too important to treat as a task. Schedule the time to connect. Value those who have been there for you and make sure that they know how you feel.

How an independent living community can make it easy to find friendships

It’s often said that making friends is almost guaranteed when you move into an independent living community.


Because they have everything you need to make it happen. Here’s a few examples of what you’ll find:

People with similar interests: your neighbors and fellow residents bring not only their unique viewpoints to the community but will also have many similarities. You all share this unique time in life and are the kind of people who are focused on an engaged life.

Activities and social events: it’s never been simpler to meet people. And the awkwardness has all been removed as you start or join in a conversation with those you find in your tai chi class, art studio or at any of the other events.

Fitness centers: you can walk out your door and into the community’s fitness center. You’ll find free weights, exercise classes, swimming and an entire group of people that are trying to maintain their health while having a little fun.

Ingleside’s Westminster at Lake Ridge Independent Living community

At Ingleside, we know the value of friendships in life. And a wonderful benefit of living in an independent living community is the chance to create lasting relationships. We design our activities to include something for everyone as well as make it easy to meet your new neighbors. Our social events, common areas and fitness center are just a few of the places where you’ll find yourself meeting your soon-to-be new friends.

You’ll also find we have lovely homes, first-class amenities, chef-prepared meals and offer a maintenance-free way of life. You’ll enjoy the convenience of everything you need in the community, but a vibrant city is just moments away for shopping or special engagements.

Call (703)794-4631 if you have any questions or would like to schedule a personalized tour today.

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