We can all stop looking for the fountain of youth because ‘Keeping Connected’ recently released an article about how social connection keeps people young. You can read it here: http://keepingconnectedcanada.ca/how-staying-socially-connected-can-improve-your-overall-health-and-happiness/
The article reminded me of Julie – our next door neighbor. When my husband and I moved into our new house, we knew we loved the neighborhood and already knew some of the neighbors. One of the best neighborhood surprises turned out to be Julie, a 90-something year old woman living alone. She turned out to be the life of the party!
The article states, “The need for human connection and companionship drives us all—and research is showing that it has a profound effect on both our physical and mental health.” Julie is the perfect example of this concept.
I was extremely close to my grandmother growing up and her passing left a grandma-sized hole in my heart that Julie was more than ready to fill. By her own admission, most of her close friends had passed away and she was lonely. Her family adored her, but were all very busy with their own lives and responsibilities. She was more than happy to take me and my husband under her wing and make room in her life for new friends and neighbors.
Julie is determined to stay social every day and really makes an effort to stay connected with others. I remember the first time I went over to introduce myself for a neighborly visit and she invited me in to stay for “a few minutes or a few hours”. Over the years, we’ve shared many evening visits and dinners where she tells me fascinating stories from her life and I share my latest travel destination or work project. I love hearing about how she worked for Western Union during the war, how she met her husband, when she “borrowed” her brother’s car to go on joyrides with her friends, and much more.
When I learned I was expecting, she was one of the first people I told after my family. Over her life, she has fostered dozens of babies through the state foster system and I’m sure she’ll have advice that I’ll be grateful for as we struggle with the reality of our first child.
Julie always talks about how staying social keeps her young—there is nothing she loves more than a party. She attends every neighborhood get-together, goes to the senior center weekly, talks to family and friends on the phone daily, and even throws backyard parties for the neighborhood youth. She says the best neighborhood parties are when she is in charge of them, and I believe it. I also believe her sociality is keeping her healthy–she is in much better shape than many people her age. I can only hope to be as sharp and witty when I reach that point in life. I feel so lucky to know her and call her a friend.
I hope her focus on staying social and busy keeps her healthy for a very long time. Not only for her sake, but also selfishly for mine. I can’t imagine a better neighbor.
Written By Jessica Trentman, Marketing Director