Nothing but a number: Retirement community residents find new friends and a new lease on life

CINCINNATI - It may not appear on a list of prescriptions or doctor's orders, but friendship can be a key ingredient to living a longer, healthier life.

A recent study on aging found that people age 70 or older with active social lives live 22 percent longer than those with less active social lives.

“Studies show having one or more good friends helps extend your life,” said Brook Wilson a social worker and admissions director at The Kenwood by Senior Star. “It helps ward off depression and as you know, depression can lead to poor health conditions. So you’re healthier by simply having a friend.”

Cay & Margaret

Cay O’Bryan, 83, arrives at an appointment to say her friend Margaret Frank, 92, is running a little late. Already today, O’Bryan has attended an exercise class at 9:30, listened to a featured speaker at 11:00 and taken a knitting class at 1:30 p.m. She explains some activities have become challenging due to deteriorating vision from macular degeneration, but she’s still holding her own.

“That’s been my day so far,” she says. “And that’s pretty typical.”

Frank enters on her walker all smiles. The two met just over a year ago when O’Bryan invited Frank to join her at a Cincinnati Woman’s Club event. They reminisce and giggle about the outing; they took pictures, they had a lovely day, Frank wore a hat and it was gorgeous.

“From that point on we sort of palled around together,” O’Bryan says.

Frank and O’Bryan are so close it’s hard to believe there are two more. The two are actually part of a foursome with their other friends Ruth and Maureen not in attendance. O’Bryan mentions that Ruth recently broke her hip.

“She’s having a rough time, she broke it in two places and is now in a wheelchair and walking a little bit, but it is such a slow process,” Frank says.

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