Whatever our age, it’s crucial to our well-being to have people around us who care. But do we place more emphasis on having family and friends close by as we get older? And how does the line-up of our home team change over time?
Who’s on the home team?
The people on our home team are our rock, our cheerleaders supporting us every step of the journey – whether they’re family members, friends or colleagues.
Among them there’s no doubt the person we call when we’ve got a flat tyre; the person who treats our home like their own; and the person who always knows when something’s wrong.
Collectively, they inspire and motivate us, cheering on our successes while picking up the pieces when things go wrong.
How do these relationships benefit us?
Family and friends have a huge impact on our lives. According to research from the Mental Health Foundation, they contribute to our psychological well-being by helping us cope with stress, react to difficulty and adapt to change, while also encouraging a higher sense of self-worth.
Of course, the more positive interactions and the more support we receive through our relationships, the better. But the important thing is having people we can rely on, for the good times as well as the bad.
Why do our relationships change over time?
According to research, friends become increasingly important to health and happiness as we age. In fact, supportive friendships in older age are shown to be a stronger predictor of well-being than strong family connections. Family ties are still linked to happiness, but their importance stays about the same over a lifetime.
This may be because these friendships have stood the test of time. We’ve let go of less nourishing friendships and invested in those that consistently make us happy, or at least contribute to our wellbeing in some way.
At the same time, we usually have fewer demands on our time, with children long moved out and work winding – or fully wound – down. A less busy life allows us to better meet our ideal expectations for friendship.
How does where we live affect our relationships?
We may no longer see colleagues after we retire. And as we get older our friends may move away or sadly die. We all seek to replace these friendships, and involvement in the local community can often make all the difference.
We’re usually more in tune with local goings-on than we realise, whether we support local business or donate to a charity in the area. Perhaps we volunteer as a fundraiser or tutor, supervise the local sports team or belong to a religious group.
Every person we meet through these interactions in some way – however small – helps us go about our day and contributes to a deeper sense of belonging.
This attachment to place is also associated with greater well-being. That’s why many of us find it comforting to stay in the home we’re used to. Research conducted by SunLife shows that 62% of respondents aged 55 and over would prefer to stay in their own home than move*.
After years of living in the same place, it’s good to find new ways to brighten and transform our space with home improvements. A brighter future can mean making our money work better by investing in new ways for an even happier future.
Having a deep connection to people and place inspires happiness. As we get older, it’s also our best bet at staying healthy. Let’s make sure we’re investing our time and energy wisely.
*SunLife, A comfortable retirement – on the house, February 2018