Strong Social Ties Increase Happiness and Lifespan

Young & Elder Woman Embracing Happily

Older adults who have an active social life have been linked to a stronger sense of wellbeing and a longer life span. According to the AARP Foundation’s “Isolation Framework Project” of 2012, an estimated one in five adults over age 50—at least eight million—are affected by isolation.

The average American’s circle of confidants declined by one-third between 1985 and 2006 according to an American Sociological Association study. The negative health consequences of chronic isolation are harmful for all adults.

“On average, people with strong social ties live more than four years longer than others, with social relationships predicting longevity better than factors such as alcoholism, high blood pressure or obesity,” stated Timothy B. Smith, a professor of counseling psychology at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, as reported by Tim Appelo in an AARP article published July 10, 2018.

Strengthen your social network:

  • Schedule a time each day to call or visit someone special to you.
  • Invite family or friends over for tea or coffee.
  • Use social media like Meetups to find local groups of others with similar interests.
  • Stay in touch with long-distance friends with phone calls or write an old-fashioned letter.
  • Visit your local community or senior center, to access a variety of programs.
  • Introduce yourself to your neighbors.
  • Be physically active by joining a walking club.

San Jose’s Happy Hollow Park & Zoo helps adults ages 50 and over to improve their health by providing the Senior Safari Walkabout program. The park opens on select Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. for older adults who benefit from free admission and parking to enjoy animal meet-and-greets, other fun activities, and giveaways.

For more information, visit or call (408) 794-6400.

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