Advice on Aging
Toni Lynn Davis, MHA, CNHA, FACHCA
CEO/President Green Hill Inc.
Studies show that love derived from intimacy, physical, emotional and social creates a chemical response in the body that stimulates the release of oxytocin. Similar to the response to pleasure, areas of the brain responsible for emotion, attention, motivation, and memory are affected along with the autonomic nervous system enabling stress reduction. Feelings of love can prevent depression, physical discomfort, supports the immune system, and can reduce levels of stress that affect blood pressure.
Falling in love, or being in love in old age, is not a rare phenomenon. Match making websites are dedicated to the pursuit of love in senior years. Ones need for emotional intimacy and love does not diminish with age but can increase as children grow up and move away, spouses, friends and family members may pass on. New friendships and new relationships can create the sense of completeness and provide love that is needed to live a healthier and richer life. One does not have to ‘fall in love’ to enjoy the physical and emotional health benefits of love. Good friends and a supportive living community can provide the social intimacy needed to affect these results.
From the perspective of psychological science, good quality relationships of all kinds, including quality romantic relationships, have a profound impact on physical health and psychological wellbeing. Love at Any Age, Published on February 11, 2013 by Michael Hogan, Ph.D.
It takes a calmer, more stable form of love to yield clear health benefits. “There is very nice evidence that people who participate in satisfying, long-term relationships fare better on a whole variety of health measures,” Reis tells WebMD Harry Reis, PhD, co-editor of the Encyclopedia of Human Relationships.
In an article by Sherry Rauh WebMD Health News, it is stated that a loving relationship may lead to fewer doctor’s appointments, less depression and substance abuse, lower blood pressure, less anxiety, pain control, stress management, fewer colds, faster healing, and a longer life.
If it’s romantic love you are looking for this Valentines Day do remember that in romance, “a healthy relationship can promote longevity, overall physical and mental health, and faster recovery from injury and illness. But experiences of heartbreak and rejection can trigger actual physical pain responses in the body, as well.” The Chopra Well.
There is no better example of how love promotes health than as exemplified on our senior community where elders show a propensity to develop close and intimate relationships with each other and staff, based on shared life experiences, communal living and a desire for enjoyment of life that we work to cultivate at Green Hill.
In this month of February, dedicated to the patron Saint of love, show your love to all those in your life. You will be healthier for it.