As you age, keeping up relationships can take on a whole new meaning. Whether with family or friends, distance, time, and health can all factor into the challenges of maintaining important connections. Below are reasons why despite the difficulties prioritizing these relationships should be important, as well as ways to make the process easier.

The Benefits of a Strong Social Network

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, older people with strong social ties are more likely to live longer and maintain a higher quality of life by being both healthier and happier. This may be obvious considering how having people to talk to, spend time with, or even to ask for help clearly has long-term benefits to your physical and mental health.

These connections also have the benefit of giving you a reason to stay connected to the community, and to give back as much as you receive in support and care. Helping others can be as beneficial to your health as being care for yourself.

As you age, family and friend relationships become more important as a safety net for when you might need extra help with health care or daily tasks.

How to Keep Up Healthy Relationships

Keeping up close connections with family or friends doesn’t have to be that difficult. While every once in a while you may need to rely on each other for help with more serious problems, the majority of a relationship is simply spending time together and having enriching conversations.

The best way to make these kinds of connections is to be confident in your life experiences and self-worth. Remember that your good qualities are unique and make you worth talking to and spending time with, so don’t be afraid to be the first person to reach out and connect.

Make sure to set yourself up to easily find new relationships as well by staying involved in your community with various volunteering opportunities, social activities, and other ways you can find common interests with people. Don’t worry about being the first person to start the conversation, either. By simply asking one question to someone, you could discover a unique connection. And, most people appreciate talking with someone who is authentically interested in their lives, so spending the majority of the conversation listening can help someone feel more comfortable.

Checking in with family, friends, and new connections is also key to keeping these relationships going and making them stronger over time. Regularly asking how your friends are doing as well as giving them some exciting updates about your life can help people feel appreciated and involved.

Maintaining relationships doesn’t have to be hard, but it should be important. As you age, these relationships will help define your support network and can have a huge effect on your health and happiness. Overall, making relationships a priority can be an extremely rewarding experience.