People make the world go round. Ask the average person about the most important aspects of their life and there’s a good chance they’ll mention friends and family. Strong relationships can enrich a person’s life, day-in and day-out. And when challenges come, ideally your support network will be there for you. Sometimes, these connections can literally save lives.
Unfortunately, not everyone has access to supportive personal networks. And even those with healthy relationships may struggle to tap into basic necessities like food and shelter. Jewish Family Service can not only step in to offer physical resources, but emotional ones too. Everyone needs a shoulder to lean on at some point.
When dealing with issues like poverty, mental health, and other issues, a holistic approach is vital. That means, among other things, helping individuals and families cultivate strong, healthy relationships.
The importance of companionship and its impact on leading a healthier, more fulfilled life is backed up by research. Harvard University has been conducting an ongoing study since 1938, examining the lives of thousands of people to shed light on “psychosocial variables and biological processes.”
Researchers have carefully studied experiences and outcomes from successive generations, uncovering factors that can affect life trajectories. What they've concluded is that companionship has a major impact on both mental and physical health. Psychiatrist Robert Waldinger, the current director of the study, noted, “The surprising finding is that our relationships and how happy we are in our relationships has a powerful influence on our health.”
The Harvard study, which will continue for years to come, has found that those individuals who were the most satisfied with their relationships in their 50s were among the healthiest in their 80s. Indeed, relationships turned out to be a better indicator of late-life health than cholesterol levels. This may point to improved well-being throughout the years.
Another study revealed that good marital bonds and social connections mitigated depression and physical pains. Strong relationships have also proven to be vital for people fighting addiction and maintaining abstinence.
In contrast, researchers argue that isolated individuals are more likely to experience an intellectual and physical decline in functioning and overall health. Unsurprisingly, they are often much less happy. Folks without strong relationships may also be at higher risk of substance abuse-related issues.
Relationships can also play a role in financial health. Over 65 percent of bankruptcies are tied to healthcare. Individuals who declare bankruptcy may face further financial challenges, such as housing issues. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure; dependable relationships may improve health, and potentially reduce the risk of destabilizing medical bills.
Unfortunately, not everyone has strong family and social networks. And if folks don’t have others they can rely on, the risk of addiction, depression, financial woes, and various other issues may increase. Fortunately, Jewish Family Services can help those in need, not just with physical resources, but also with companionship. Jewish Family Service strengthens lives and our community by providing professional social services to families and individuals in their golden years so that peace of mind is always within reach.