As we grow older and the decades pass, we meet a lot of people in our lives: friends from our childhood and teenage years, people we interact with for work or business, or those we meet through other friends or share common hobbies with.
Most become casual acquaintances and some become good friends. But a handful become the closest of friends that you rely on and hold dearest to you, and will remain as your closest friends until you grow old. Now, more and more studies are showing that staying socially connected is the secret to healthy aging.
In his book Timeless: Nature’s Formula for Health and Longevity, Louis Cozolino, professor of psychology at Pepperdine University, writes that “of all the experiences we need to survive and thrive, it is the experience of relating to others that is the most meaningful and important."
While countless studies have shown that regular exercise, proper eating, good sleep, and a positive disposition and attitude are important factors in helping one live healthier, longer, better lives, Professor Cozolino believes that the impact of human relationships on one's health is the most crucial aspect.
Connections Mean Better Health
His thinking comes from a new field of study called "interpersonal neurobiology," where human brains are seen as "social organs." This means our brains are naturally designed to be wired and connected to each other and to interact with groups, and not meant for isolation. Hence, the more human contact and social interaction we experience, the better for our brain, especially as we age.
Other studies have shown that "people who have more social support tend to have better mental health, cardiovascular health, immunological functioning, and cognitive performance." This is supported by the long-running Nurses' Health Study of Harvard Medical School, which is one of the first researches to show that being socially integrated leads to better health, improved life satisfaction, and longevity.
“How we bond and stay attached to others is at the core of our resilience, self-esteem, and physical health,” Cozolino writes. “We build the brains of our children through our interaction with them, and we keep our own brains growing and changing throughout life by staying connected to others.”
Evolving Nature of Relationships
However, when we grow older, it is not the size of our networks that matters. After all, the kind of social connections and friendships that we have as we age changes drastically. According to TBPS, while the size of one's social network reduces as one ages, it has been observed that "older adults may have higher-quality relationships within that smaller social network and be more involved in their community compared with younger adults." In other words, quality over quantity.
This is supported by the Socio-emotional Selectivity Theory of Laura L. Carstensen, Director of the Stanford Center on Longevity, which shows that "we become more selective and strengthen emotional ties, dissolving peripheral relationships and creating a smaller number of high-quality relationships."
But while the depth or quality of relationships defines retirement-age relationships, it was observed that having a good mix of social engagement with family and friends from varying backgrounds is key.
Protection for Aging
While keeping close social connections is important in protecting your health as you age, it is also crucial to protect your finances for your retirement. This is why BPI AIA offers Life Ready Plus, a unit-linked protection plan that allows you to build your long-term savings for retirement through professionally managed funds. Moreover, Life Ready Plus provides protection coverage as much as 30 times your yearly payment, which can be a great support for the financial needs of your loved ones in the future.
Life Ready Plus belongs to BPI AIA’s Wellness Series, a suite of life insurance products powered by AIA Vitality, a science-backed health and wellness program that rewards you as you make healthy choices. With AIA Vitality, you can enjoy an upfront 20 percent additional life coverage and supplementary benefits. Plus, avail of discounts from a range of partners as a reward for living healthy.
To know more about Life Ready Plus and how BPI AIA can help you live healthier, longer, and better, leave us a message or visit the nearest BPI branch and speak to a Bancassurance sales executive.