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The Role of Significant Relationships As We Age

Some say that relationships are the very stuff of life.  Others say that you can only depend upon yourself to find fulfillment.  While I’m sure that no one quite knows for sure, I suspect that there is truth in both statements.

Loneliness is a very real thing for many aging seniors.  Isolation that is brought on by changing housing circumstances certainly contributes to the loneliness, & sometimes the deaths of those with whom we feel closest cause us to further isolate ourselves from others around us.  Loneliness may seem like a normal part of life, but left unchecked, it can contribute to a large number of health risks.  Depression, high blood pressure & dementia are some of the risk factors that have been associated with loneliness.  Loneliness can also make it necessary to go into a long-term care facility much sooner rather than later in life.  So, while many people want to pretend that they are islands unto themselves, the reality is that we need one another.

Having strong, significant relationships, whether they be spousal relationships or simply a good strong friendship can greatly increase your feelings of health & well-being.  That relationship can keep your mind active & engaged, can help you get through hard times that you face, and can even help keep you in shape physically.  People who have strong relationships tend to care more for their physical bodies through regular activity & care, even if it is not necessarily strenuous exercise.  Relationship is good for us -very, very good.

That being said, if you are in a significant relationship that is extremely unhealthy or abusive, the relationship may be causing you more harm than good.  Those that we choose to have in our inner circle must also be of a healthy sort for our own health to remain in-tact.  You can not be surrounded with people who abuse or disregard you on a regular basis and hope to remain unscathed.  Significant relationships affect us, whether we’d like to admit it or not.  The great thing about relationships, however is that they require both parties to be actively engaged and only then will both parties benefit.  If one person is putting in all the effort, the relationship will be a drain, at best. The hurt that can come from these types of relationships is very real.  But to sink back into only depending upon oneself to avoid hurt is equally as unhealthy.  We were made for good, healthy relationship with others.  While we need to be okay with being who we are & not be afraid of doing things alone, we also need to be okay with spending less time & energy on people that are not reciprocating relationship.  Finding friends that are healthy & that will benefit you is difficult & time consuming, but it is worth every effort that you put into it!

Relationships that are significant need not be romantic in nature.  They are more often relationships where you find joy & connectedness without romance.  You need those around you that you know care for you & with whom you can be your authentic self.  You need those on whom you know you can depend when life throws things at you.  You need others, and, like it or not, they need you!


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