45 days to go
Today I visited a friend whom I’ve not seen since neither of us could remember when, and we sat in the garden in the sunshine and caught up on life and put the world to rights as you do. We’ve spoken on the phone and even had a zoom call this past year but it’s not the same. There’s a qualitative aspect to being in the physical presence of another human being for which no technology will ever be able to compensate.
Humans are social animals and need contact with other humans. We meet that need through contact with friends and family or work colleagues. As we age our social network can start to shrink. To counter this I believe it’s healthy for us to keep engaging in new social activities throughout life and not just with those of our own age but across the age ranges and especially younger people.
There is much evidence that increasing social contact is beneficial for us: it helps people maintain their thinking skills and slows cognitive decline by stimulating our brain with conversation or learning a new skill. Interaction across age ranges improves emotional intelligence and enables an understanding across the generations. And, it prevents loneliness which apart from being a miserable situation to find yourself, is linked with increased risks of physical and mental health problems.
Many of my running companions are younger than I am but age is just a number when you’re all sharing the same fun activity. And whilst the world may change rapidly, my younger friends keep me up to date with things like the latest ‘buzzwords’ and technology.
It was no surprise that more than a third of my thirty ‘Small Steps to a healthier me’ related to social activity; learning a new skill at an evening class, volunteering, checking up on neighbours, walking with friends, joining a cycle group and so on.
So, the third main area your health pension advisor would be exploring – ways to expand your social activities. What do you think you’d like to try?
The end goal is a bonus - it's the journey that changes us