Aging Well and Social Connections

Three women in living room talking and smiling

Everyone will hopefully get older (vs. the alternative) and while you can’t control aging, you can be aware of some of the things that can slow it down a bit.  From what you eat, to exercise and very importantly, strengthening your social ties – has now been proven to be a major component to aging well.

Staying in touch with family and friends — and forming new relationships — can keep you healthier longer and may add years to your life.


Make friends. Volunteer. Join a club.  That is some of the most important advice you’ll ever get about aging well. A large body of scientific research shows that social interaction — having strong, happy relationships with family, friends and community members — is an important factor in good health and longevity. Researchers who studied 7,000 men and women in Alameda County, Calif., found that people who were “disconnected from others” were about three times more likely to die during the nine-year study than people with strong social ties. And here’s an amazing fact about your friendships — they can compensate for your bad habits. Research has shown that people with close social ties who had unhealthy habits like smoking and lack of exercise actually lived longer than healthy people who were more isolated. Obviously, friendship can only go so far. It’s better to have healthy habits and friendships. On average, people with healthful lifestyles and close relationships live the longest.

And friendships can get you through the inevitable health setbacks that occur with aging. A study of 2,320 men who survived heart attacks, found that those with strong personal connections were far more likely to stay alive over the next three years of follow-up. A number of other studies have shown the same trend. In one report of adults with coronary artery disease, people who were socially isolated had nearly three times the death rate compared with those with strong relationships.

Why are close friends and family ties good for us? They give us emotional support that can help us cope with stress. They can be a positive influence, helping us create healthy habits. (If your friends don’t smoke, you probably don’t either.) Studies show friendships give us higher self-esteem, greater empathy for others and make us more trusting and cooperative. And perhaps most important: As we age, our friends and family give us a sense of purpose and a reason to keep getting up in the morning.



To retire or not to retire? Studies show that people who keep working well into their 70s and beyond tend to have better health and stay more socially connected. But it’s tough to parse out whether healthy people tend to keep working or whether work tends to keep us healthy. Even so, most research supports the idea that staying busy, maintaining social connections and finding meaning and purpose in your daily routine are all part of healthy aging. Studies also suggest that the type of work matters. If you find work fulfilling and enjoy the company of your colleagues, you should consider sticking with it. If your job is backbreaking or high stress, consider checking out around retirement age — but make a plan for your second act. Volunteer or find paid work somewhere that will keep you active, engaged and give you a reason to get up in the morning.

Retirement itself isn’t a bad thing. Retiring after years of work can feel like a heady vacation at first. But eventually, not working can take a toll on mental health. One study found that the negative effects of retirement — defined as a range of depressive tendencies (such as lack of appetite, lapsed concentration, fatigue and so on) to clinical depression — start to appear after the first few years of ceasing to work for some.

The main benefit of work may be the social network it offers. A Syracuse University study found that people who continued to work past retirement age enjoyed an increase in the size of their networks of family and friends of 25 percent. The social networks of retired people, on the other hand, shrank during the five-year period. You don’t need to collect a paycheck to reap the health benefits of work. One study of school volunteers over age 50 found that volunteering was linked with better physical health and cognitive gains.


Find ways to stay connected- joining a club or group, continue to work, volunteer- along with eating well and exercising- for an overall healthier aging.


Article Contributor:  Tara Parker-Pope  NY Times


Laura Kay House, MA, is the founder and owner of  Silver Connections, located in the Triangle area of North Carolina.  For over a decade, Silver Connections has provided unique local events, travel opportunities, personal service, quality members and connections for age 55+, active and single adults.






The Most Common Regrets In Life



We are all busy. Life happens. There’s always something to distract us from doing certain things we know we should do.  We often just never get around to it.

As we grow older, we begin to look back on the choices we made (or didn’t make) and think about how we wish we would have done it differently.

Regret is defined as feeling sad, repentant, or disappointed over something that has happened or been done, especially a loss or missed opportunity.

If a good friend or loved one dies unexpectedly, it is even a bigger reminder.  We begin to really think about what our biggest regrets would be if it were the end of our life.


These regrets below are the most common that people have noted. How many do you agree with?


  •  Working so much at the expense of family and friendships. How do you balance meeting that short-term deadline at work and sitting down for dinner with your family?  It’s tough.  There are always worries. “What will my boss and co-workers think? It’s not a big deal if I stay late this one time.  I’ll make it up with the family this weekend.”  But the “making up” never seems to happen.  Days turn to months and then years and then decades.


  • Standing up to bullies in school and in life.  Believe it or not, a lot of our biggest regrets in life have to do with things that happened to us in grade 4 or some other early age. We never seem to forget – or forgive ourselves – for not speaking up against the bullies.  We were too scared. We wish we had been more confident.  And by the way most of us have also met up with a bully in our work life.  Maybe he was our boss.  We remember that one time we wish we’d told him off – even if it cost us our job.  We usually take some small solace in hearing that that bully later on made some unfortunate career stumble.


  • Stayed in touch with some good friends from my childhood and youth. There’s usually one childhood or high school friend who we were best buddies with.  Then, one of us moved away.  We might have stayed in touch at first but then got busy. Sometimes, we thought to pick up the phone, but maybe we don’t have their number or email any more.  We all have those friends who we were so close to when we were younger and through the years, we just lost touch. We smile when we think of them and the memories and always wonder what it would be like to sit down with them again for a coffee.


  • Turned off my phone more/Left my phone at home.  Many of us can’t get off our phone/email addiction.  We sleep with it next to us. We carry it with us constantly. It’s right next to us in the shower, just in case we see a new email icon light up through the steamed up shower glass.  We know constantly checking email and Twitter in the evenings and on weekends takes us away from quality time with family and friends. Yet, we don’t stop.


  • Breaking up with my true love/Getting dumped by them.  Romance is a big area of regret for most of us.  Maybe we dumped someone that we wish we hadn’t. Maybe they dumped us.  Most play a never-ending game of “what might have been” for the rest of their lives.  It is tough to simply be happy with the love that you’ve found and takes away from the special moments you have today, if you’re constantly thinking back to what you once had — which actually might not have been half as good as we think it was.


  • Worrying about what others thought about me so much.  Most of us place way too much importance on what other people around us think about us.  How will they judge us?  In the moment, we think their opinions are crucial to our future success and happiness.  On our death beds, none of that matters.


  • Not having enough confidence in myself.  Related to the previous point, a big regret for most of us is questioning why we had such little confidence in ourselves.  Why did we allow the concerns of others to weigh so heavy on us instead of trusting our own beliefs?  Maybe we didn’t think we were worth having what we wanted.  Maybe we just thought poorly of ourselves.  Later on, we wish we could have been more self-confident.


  • Living the life that my parents wanted me to live instead of the one I wanted to.  Related to that lack of confidence, a lot of us get sucked into living the life that we think a good son or daughter should live.  Whether because we’re explicitly told or just because we unconsciously adopt it, we make key life choices – about where to go to school, what to study, and where to work — because we think it’s what will make our parents happy.  Our happiness is derived through their happiness – or so we think. It’s only later – 1o or 20 years on – where we discover that friends around us are dying and we’re not really doing what we want to do.  A panic can start to set in.  Whose life am I living any way?


  • Applying for that “dream job” I always wanted.  Maybe we didn’t apply for that job we always wanted to because of a child, or because our spouse didn’t want to move cities.  It might not have been the perfect job for us, but we always regret not trying out for it.  Do you think Katie Couric regrets giving the nightly news gig a shot?  No way. Sometimes you swing and you miss, but you have no regrets later on.


  • Been happier more. Not taken life so seriously.  Seems strange to say, but most of us don’t know how to have fun.  We’re way too serious.  We don’t find the humor in life.  We don’t joke around.  We don’t think we’re funny.  So, we go through life very serious.  We miss out on half (or maybe all) the fun in life that way.  Do something a little silly today. Crack a joke with the bus driver – even if he ends up looking at you weird.  Do a little dance.  You’ll probably smile, on the inside if not the outside.  Now keep doing that, day after day.


  •  Travel.   Many folks stay close to home. They don’t travel all that much.  Yet, trips with others are the stuff that memories are made of later in life.  We’re all thrown in to some new unfamiliar situation together.  We’ve got to figure it out as a group – and it’s fun, even when it rains.  We really remember trips.


  • Letting my marriage break down.  Back to romance now. More people will divorce than stay together.  If you ask these folks, they’ll tell you that it was for the best. They couldn’t take it any more.  And, of course, there are some marriages that shouldn’t go on and where divorce is the best for all parties involved.  However, if you talk to many people privately, they’ll tell you they regret their marriage breaking up.  It’s never just one thing that ends a marriage – even if that one thing is infidelity. There are usually lots of signs and problems leading up to that.  The regrets most of us have is that we didn’t correct some or most of those “little things” along the way.  We can’t control our spouse but we can control our actions and we know – deep down – we could have done more.


  • Taught my kids to do stuff more.  Kids love their parents, but they love doing stuff with their parents even more.  And it doesn’t have to be a vacation at the Four Seasons.  It could be raking leaves, learning how to throw a football, or cleaning up a play room together.  We learned all the little habits that we take for granted in our own behavior from mimicking our parents.  If we’re not making the time to do stuff with our kids, we’re robbing them of the chance to mimic us.


  • Burying the hatchet with a family member or old friend.  I know family members that haven’t talked to a brother or sister for 30 years.  One’s in bad health and will probably die soon.  But neither he nor the other brother will make an effort.  They’ve both written each other off.  And there’s blame on both sides – although I take one’s side more.  But these were two guys that were inseparable as kids. They got washed in a bucket in their parents’ kitchen sink together.  Now, neither one will make a move to improve things because they think they’ve tried and the other one is too stubborn.  They think they’ve done all they can and washed their hands of the relationship. They’ll regret that when one of them is no longer around.


  • Trusting that voice in the back of my head more. Whether it’s as simple as taking a job we weren’t really thrilled about or as complex of being the victim of some crime, most of us have had the experience of a little voice in the back of our heads warning us that something was wrong here.  A lot of times, we override that voice. We think that we know best.  We do a matrix before taking that job and figure out a way to prove to ourselves that, analytically, this makes sense. Most of the time, we learn later that voice was dead right.


  • Not asking that girl/boy out.  Nerves get the best of us – especially when we’re young.  We can forgive ourselves that we didn’t screw up enough courage to ask that boy or girl out on a date or to the prom.  But that doesn’t mean that we still won’t think about it decades later.  Sometimes people regret seeing someone famous or well-known in real life and not going up to them and telling them how much they inspired them in our lives.  It’s the same underlying fear.  We always we could have just said what we really felt at that moment.


  • Getting involved with the wrong group of friends when I was younger.  We do dumb stuff when we’re young.  We’re impressionable.  We make friends with the wrong crowd, except we don’t think there’s anything wrong with them.  They’re our friends and maybe the only people we think that truly understand us.  However, we can really get sidetracked by hooking up with this group.  Sometimes it leads to drugs or serious crimes.  We never start out thinking our choice of friends could lead us to such a difficult outcome.


  • Not getting that degree (high school or college).  I’ve spoken with lots of folks who didn’t graduate with a high school or college degree.   When I met them, they were already well-known at their job.  And there are many examples I can think of where their jobs were very senior and they were very well-respected. However, if the education topic ever came up in private conversation, almost universally, you could tell they regretted not getting their degree.  It made them insecure, almost like they worried they were going to be “found out.”  Most of these folks will never go back to get it now.  Whether they do or not, they’re great at what they do and don’t need to feel bad about not having that piece of paper.


  • Choosing the practical job over the one I really wanted.  I was watching CNBC the other day and one finance guy was being asked for advice on what college kids should major in today. He said: “It sounds corny but they’ve got to do what they love.” He’s right. Of course, as a country, we need more engineers, scientists, and other “hard” science folks.  But, at the end of the day, you’ve got to live your life, not the government’s.  There are many who think they need to take a “consulting job” to build up their experience before settling in to a job they love.  Although there are many roads that lead to Rome, you’re probably better off just starting immediately in the area that you love.


  • Spending more time with the kids.  I had an old mentor who used to tell me, “when it comes to parenting, it’s not quality of time that’s important, it’s quantity of time.”  When we get so busy at work, we comfort ourselves knowing that we’re going to stay late at the office again with the idea that we’ll make it up by taking our son to a ballgame on the weekend.  As long as I spend some quality time with him, we think, it will all balance out.  It probably won’t.  There are lots of busy executives who take control of their schedules in order to either be at home for dinners more or be at those special school events with the kids.  Kids do remember that.


  • Not taking care of my health when I had the chance.  Everyone doesn’t think of their health – until there’s a problem.  And at that point, we promise ourselves if we get better we’ll do a better job with our health. It shouldn’t take a major calamity to get us to prioritize our health and diet.  Small habits every day make a big difference here over time.


  • Not having the courage to get up and talk at a funeral or important event.  I remember at an old Dale Carnegie class I attended, they told us more people were afraid of public speaking than dying.  They’d rather die than give a speech apparently.  Yet, when you’re close to death, you’re probably going to wish you’d gotten over those fears on at least a few occasions, but especially at a loved one’s funeral or some important event like a wedding.


  • Not visiting a dying friend before they died.  I had a buddy I went to high school with who died 3 years ago.  He was in his late 30s with a great wife and 3 great boys.  He had cancer for the last 3 years of his life. We’d talked off and on over that time. Two months before he died, he called me and asked if I could come by to visit. I was in the process of moving and too busy with my own family.  I said I’d come soon.  A month later, it was clear he had days to live.  I rushed to the hospital and did get to visit at his bedside before he passed, but he was a different guy from the one I’d spoken to only a month earlier on the phone. He was just hanging on. We hadn’t been best friends and we hadn’t seen much of each other since high school, but I know I’ll always regret not going to visit him earlier when I’d had the chance.  What I’d give to have one last regular chat with him.


  • Learning another language.  Even if you have had the opportunity to travel,  few have studied a second language.  And this is a big regret down the road for many of us, even though it might seem like a small thing next to family, career, and romance.  A lot of us wish we’d made the time to learn a new language to open up a whole new culture to us.


  • Being a better father or mother.  There’s no bigger legacy than our children.  Often, they turn out great.  When our kids struggle though, there’s nothing bigger than makes us feel guilty.  Yet, when they start showing signs of problems – with school, or friends, or otherwise — there’s often been many years that have passed in which we could have and probably should have been spending more time with them.  No situation is ever lost though.  There is always time to improve our relationships with our kids.  But, it can’t wait another day, especially if it’s a relationship that’s been neglected for years.


Can you relate to some or many of these regrets?


We can’t change the past, but the question is what are we going to do with the rest of our lives?  Forgive yourself and move forward.  It is never too late to make a change.



Article Contributor:   Eric Jackson



Laura Kay House, MA, is the founder and owner of  Silver Connections, located in the Triangle area of North Carolina.  For over a decade, Silver Connections has provided unique local events, travel opportunities, personal service, quality members and connections for age 55+, active and single adults.  







The “Widowhood Effect” Is Real



With the recent death of Barbara Bush and George H. W. Bush being hospitalized the day after her funeral, many wondered if you can die from a broken heart.  How many times have you seen a couple that has been married for many years, were inseparable and when one partner dies, the other passes a few months later?

It’s long been known that widowhood can increase the risk of hospitalization and dying. In one nationally representative study of the “widowhood effect” researchers found the death of a wife was linked with an 18 percent increase in mortality for men. And the death of a husband was linked with a 16 percent boost in mortality for women.

The reasons for this are complicated and still mysterious. There is a condition called “broken heart syndrome” also known as stress or Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy.  Yes, you can literally die from a broken heart.

In these cases, taxing events — even joyous ones — cause stress hormones to surge in a way that can lead to an abnormal heart contraction. “This can cause chest pain in the acute setting and lead to heart failure in both the short and long term,” explained Julie Clary,  chief cardiology fellow at the Krannert Institute of Cardiology at Indiana University.

Other scientific research has repeatedly shown that our health is incredibly fragile after we’ve endured an emotional upheaval, especially the death of a loved one. Losing a loved one can mean losing the routines we depend on for stable health. Often, the surviving spouse is so lost, that taking care of themselves is not a priority.

A large study on this subject from the University of Wisconsin found that the widowhood effect isn’t as commonly seen among people whose spouses died of diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s.  It was found there was no increased chance of death in these cases, and only a very slight increased risk in spouses of those who died of certain cancers. In these cases, the grieving spouse had time to prepare for the death, something called anticipatory grief. The sadness of the loss is just as great, but the shock isn’t so severe.

Both men and women also respond differently to the death of their spouse. In general, men tend to be more vulnerable to the widowhood effect. Men are affected more socially than women. Women tend to maintain social relationships and friendships outside of marriage, so when the female spouse dies first, men tend to lose out on these social relationships and support groups and they tend to isolate themselves. Women maintain their friendships and relationships and lean on them for support after their spouse dies.

The bright side: The relationships we have matter deeply to our health, but they can also protect us.

Strong bonds with others are associated with a great many positive things. The fortitude of social connections is a predictor of resistance to Alzheimer’s and overall mental health including fighting depression. Studies find people with strong bonds tend to live longer than others. In contrast, some experts say loneliness is as bad for the heart as smoking.

Humans are social creatures; our entire psychology is built on coexisting with one another. Social relationships guide our decisions to join groups, seek out religious organizations, sports teams, reconnect with old friends, date and marry. Having evolved this way means we can suffer without the companionship of others — but then again, thrive when we have it.

If a family member or a close friend recently has suffered the loss of a spouse, offering that person support can help them get through one of the toughest possible times in life.



Julia Belluz and Brian Resnick

Melissa Dahl




Laura Kay House, MA, is the founder and owner of  Silver Connections, located in the Triangle area of North Carolina.  For a decade, Silver Connections has provided numerous local events, domestic and international travel, personal service, quality members and connections for age 55+, active and single adults.  




Embracing a Positive Attitude About Aging



Could the way you feel about aging actually affect the way you age?

Betty Friedan famously said, “Aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength.” Recently, researchers identified that having positive self-perceptions about the benefits of getting older can create a self-fulfilling prophecy by helping someone stay mentally, physically, and psychologically younger.

Over the years, various studies have found a strong correlation between negative perceptions about aging and physical frailty. Additionally, researchers have identified that physical frailty in older age is associated with lower cognitive abilities, when compared to peers who are less frail in older age. Frailty appears to trigger a domino effect that often cascades into dementia.

A new study by researchers reports that having a positive attitude about aging may help prevent older adults from becoming frail, which in turn appears to keep their minds sharp. On the flip side, the researchers confirmed that having negative attitudes about aging affect both physical and cognitive health in later years. The researchers concluded, “Negative perceptions of aging may modify the association between frailty and frontal cognitive domains in older adults.”

A positive attitude about aging can also help seniors cope with stress, another study suggests.

“We found that people in the study who had more positive attitudes toward aging were more resilient in response to stress — meaning that there wasn’t a significant increase in negative emotions,” study author Jennifer Bellingtier, a Ph.D. student at North Carolina State University, said in a university news release.

“Meanwhile, study participants with more negative attitudes toward aging showed a sharp increase in negative emotional affect on stressful days,” she added.

“The way we feel about aging has very real consequences on our health and how we respond to difficult situations as we grow older.” says Shevaun Neupert, an associate psychology professor at NC State. “That affects our quality of life and may also have health ramifications. For example, more adverse responses to stress may have increased cardiovascular health risks.”


How do we keep a positive attitude as we age?

  • Write down a bothersome thought and then write down a positive thought to counteract it.  For example, “I messed up my entire life” and then “I haven’t messed up my entire life.  I made one bad decision and can fix it. And, I have made other good decisions.”


  • Practice gratitude.  Write down a few things every day that you are thankful for. No matter how big or small they are.  It can be as simple as a good cup of coffee, having a good book to read or seeing a friend.


  • Hang out with kindred spirits.  Some people just make you happy or lift you up when you are around them, while others may bring you down.  Reach out to those positive friends and avoid ones who are negative.


Deirdre Robertson, Ph.D. states “The way we think about, talk about and write about aging may have direct effects on health. Everyone will grow older and if negative attitudes towards aging are carried throughout life they can have a detrimental, measurable effect on mental, physical and cognitive health.”



Christopher Bergland – Psychology Today

Robert Preidt – CBS News

NC State University



Laura Kay House, MA, is the founder and owner of  Silver Connections, located in the Triangle area of North Carolina.  For a decade, Silver Connections has provided numerous local events, domestic and international travel, personal service, quality members and connections for age 55+, active and single adults.  



Socializing Appears to Delay Memory Problems


An active social life appears to delay memory loss as we age, a new study shows.

The finding, which appears in The American Journal of Public Health, suggests that strong social ties, through friends, family and community groups, can preserve our brain health as we age and that social isolation may be an important risk factor for cognitive decline in the elderly.

Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health used data gathered from 1998 to 2004 from the Health and Retirement Study, a large, nationally representative population of American adults ages 50 and older. Participants took memory tests at two-year intervals during the study period. Testers read a list of 10 common nouns to survey respondents, who were then asked to recall as many words as possible immediately and again after a five-minute delay. The researchers also measured social integration based on marital status, volunteer activities, and contact with parents, children and neighbors.

The results showed that individuals who in their 50s and 60s engaged in a lot of social activity also had the slowest rate of memory decline.  In fact, compared to those who were the least socially active, study subjects who had the highest social integration scores had less than half the rate of memory loss. The researchers controlled for variables like age, gender, race and health status.

“The working hypothesis is that social engagement is what makes you mentally engaged,” said Lisa F. Berkman, the study’s senior author and director of the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies. “You can’t sit and withdraw if you’re constantly talking and working on things and figuring out problems in your daily life. It’s not just completing a crossword puzzle, it’s living your life.”

The data are particularly important for those caring for aging family members. Simply visiting and giving support to an older family member does not make them socially engaged. “A lot of people when they think about the elderly focus on social support — things like what can I do for an older mother,” Dr. Berkman said. “But having someone to count on is not what we’re measuring. It’s not about support, it’s about being completely engaged and participating in our society.”

What was notable about the study is that participants didn’t have to be married or surrounded by extensive family to receive the protective effect of social engagement. “There are lots of relationships that are substitutable” Dr. Berkman said.


Contributor- The New York Times



Laura Kay House, MA, is the founder and owner of  Silver Connections, located in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Silver Connections provides numerous socializing opportunities through events and travel, personal service, quality members and connections for age 55+, active and single adults.




Socializing and Connections- The Most Important Thing We Can Do For Our Happiness


If you consider yourself a naturally social person, you’re probably not surprised to hear that spending time with friends is proven to make you happier.  Even if you are anti-social, it turns out that you’ll be happier when you hang out with others, too.


Research into the impact of social behavior on health and longevity has been going on for years, with study after study concluding that humans are, simply put, social creatures who require connections with other humans in order to thrive.


In fact, lack of social connection is being called a greater overall health risk than smoking! Being lonely impacts your immune system as well as your susceptibility to anxiety, depression, and antisocial behaviors. (It’s easy to see how this can create a vicious cycle; poor social connections cause in increase in the very behaviors which interfere with those connections, which means more of those behaviors, etc.) Here’s what you need to know about social connections and happiness.


Connection is contagious
Just like germs, your “connection benefits” tend to be contagious—love, altruism, and yes, happiness, all seem to spread through solid human connections. While deep connections seem to be the most beneficial, even more casual connections can still confer positive effects when those connections are pro-social. Some Harvard researchers are considering social connection ramifications within friendship networks and finding positive influence contagious in ways even those experiencing the effects often don’t recognize.


Connection is about perception
Just as you can feel lonely in a crowd or all alone in spite of a large circle of family and friends, your connectedness to others is less about what you do and more about how you view those relationships. Taking the time to feel grateful for the people in your life actually deepens those bonds, whether it changes any of the outward behavior happening between you or not.


Connection can be cultivated
Yes, even introverts can find way to build and optimize connections to others. In today’s technological world, it’s easier than ever to “find your tribe,” whether it be in person or through a digital medium. The great news is that all positive connections have health and happiness benefits, so you needn’t only look for the kind of deep, best-friends-forever situation as “counting.” Participating in any form of positive social interaction is building up your so-called connection bank, and the more you connect, the happier you’ll feel, and the more likely you’ll be to build even more connections.


Connection is the answer
If you’ve read up on the famous Grant Study—a 75-year longitudinal project attempting to pinpoint what makes us the most happy—the study’s 3-decade-long director, George Vaillant, said the takeaway is clear: “Happiness is love. Full stop.” And again and again, when humans are observed and probed and quizzed on what makes them feel love, it’s… other people. Not things, or even experiences, but our connections with other people. Because that’s what makes us happiest.


Author Contributor  Nataly Kogan     Happier


Laura Kay House, MA, is the founder and owner of  Silver Connections, located in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Silver Connections provides numerous socializing opportunities through events and travel, personal service, quality members and connections for age 55+, active and single adults.




The One Secret To Leading A FulFilling Life


Silver Connections is based on the importance of relationships with others- the friendships and connections that enrich each of us. Friendships, and all relationships, take work, effort and have to be a priority to thrive.  The end result is a much happier and healthier life.

For over 75 years, Harvard’s Grant and Glueck has tracked the physical and emotional well-being of two populations: 456 poor men growing up in Boston from 1939 to 2014 (the Grant Study), and 268 male graduates from Harvard’s classes of 1939-1944 (the Glueck study).

Due to the length of the research period, this has required multiple generations of researchers. Since before WWII, they’ve diligently analyzed blood samples, conducted brain scans (once they became available), and pored over self-reported surveys, as well as actual interactions with these men, to compile the findings.

The conclusion? According to Robert Waldinger, director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, one thing surpasses all the rest in terms of importance: “The clearest message that we get from this 75-year study is this: Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period.”

Not how much is in your 401(k). Not how many conferences you spoke at–or keynoted. Not how many blog posts you wrote or how many followers you had or how many tech companies you worked for or how much power you wielded there or how much you vested at each.

No, the biggest predictor of your happiness and fulfillment overall in life is, basically, love.

Specifically, the study demonstrates that having someone to rely on helps your nervous system relax, helps your brain stay healthier for longer, and reduces both emotional as well as physical pain.

The data is also very clear that those who feel lonely are more likely to see their physical health decline earlier and die younger.

“It’s not just the number of friends you have, and it’s not whether or not you’re in a committed relationship,” says Waldinger. “It’s the quality of your close relationships that matters.”

What that means is this: It doesn’t matter whether you have a huge group of friends and go out every weekend or if you’re in a romantic relationship. It’s the quality of the relationships–how much vulnerability and depth exists within them; how safe you feel sharing with one another; the extent to which you can relax and be seen for who you truly are, and truly see another.

According to George Vaillant, the Harvard psychiatrist who directed the study from 1972 to 2004, there are two foundational elements to this: “One is love. The other is finding a way of coping with life that does not push love away.”

Thus, if you’ve found love (in the form of a relationship, let’s say) but you undergo a trauma like losing a job, losing a parent, or losing a child, and you don’t deal with that trauma, you could end up “coping” in a way that pushes love away.

This is a very good reminder to prioritize not only connection but your own capacity to process emotions and stress. If you’re struggling, get a good therapist. Join a support group. Invest in a workshop. Get a grief counselor. Take personal growth seriously so you are available for connection.

Because the data is clear that, in the end, you could have all the money you’ve ever wanted, a successful career, and be in good physical health, but without loving relationships, you won’t be happy.

The next time you’re scrolling through Facebook instead of being present at the table with your significant other, or you’re considering staying late at work instead of getting together with your close friend, or you catch yourself working on a Saturday instead of going to the farmer’s market with your sister, consider making a different choice.

“Relationships are messy and they’re complicated,” acknowledges Waldinger. But he’s adamant in his research-backed assessment: “The good life is built with good relationships.”

By Melanie Curtin  Contributor, Inc. com


Laura Kay House, MA, is the founder and owner of  Silver Connections, located in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Silver Connections provides numerous socializing opportunities through events and travel, personal service, quality members and connections for age 55+, active and single adults.



The Passing Of Mary Tyler Moore And What She Meant To The Boomer Generation


The death of actress Mary Tyler Moore last week caused a national outcry of disbelief and sadness. We should expect more passings of the TV and film icons we once loved years ago, as many are now in their 80s and 90s.

It was especially heartbreaking to many when Moore died and not only because she was beautiful, charming and watched every week by millions, but because she was the symbol of a new era of women. Women could be single, have a career, friends, live alone and be happy.  Life was based on their own abilities and talents and not merely as a partner to a man. 

She was one of the first actresses on TV to break this new ground in 1970 and became a role model for many young girls and women.  I know myself as a preteen at the time, when I saw the opening song of the Mary Tyler Moore Show (“You’re Going To Make It After All”) – I wanted to be JUST like Mary Richards. A decade later, instead of going to Minneapolis, I went to Atlanta.

When her death was announced, it was also a reminder to all of the passage of time.

The article below discusses Laura Petrie and the Mary Richards that we saw on TV and the real life Mary Tyler Moore and her legacy.    


By Lauren Stiller Rikleen

Laurie Petrie was a young TV wife played by Mary Tyler Moore on The Dick Van Dyke Show and I was captivated by the character’s grace, humor and endless ability to get herself out of trouble. She was also strong-willed and charming, qualities that were a winning combination for young girls with few realistic role models on television in the mid-1960s.

When Moore re-emerged as WJM TV news producer Mary Richards in 1970 on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, it was against a backdrop of rapid societal shifts. The show began the same year that four students were killed by National Guardsmen at Kent State, Apollo 13 demonstrated both the fallibility and ingenuity of the space program and the Beatles disbanded, breaking the hearts of music lovers everywhere. In the midst of these tumultuous events, Mary Richards brought Laura Petrie’s charm and gentle humor to her role as a single working woman and all-around confidant. It was TV escapism with a modern twist, offering a glimpse of work opportunities for American women, amidst the restraints of pay equality  and gender role stereotypes.


The Marvelous Mary Richards

We watched Mary navigate boorish comments with an aplomb that few of us boomer women could ever pull off in real life. We also watched her navigate an ocean of bad dates with the good humor that comes from knowing she had created a family at WJM and at home of people that had her back.

We studied her outfits like we would prepare for a test, marveling at her impeccable wardrobe on an under-market salary.

And we admired her role as mediator in the relationship between her amusingly caustic landlord, Phyllis, and her best friend and fellow tenant, Rhoda. Mary always stayed above the fray, whether at work or at home. She was the trusted friend who did not betray, the optimist who saw the best in everyone and that rare tolerant and kind colleague who never made people feel bad about themselves.


The True Legacy of Mary Tyler Moore

Mary Richards has been hailed as a feminist role model because she was a single working woman in her 30s who took birth control (at least by the third season) and was not obsessed with finding a spouse. But Mary Tyler Moore’s legacy will be much greater than the emerging feminism of her character.

Her real life was marked by remarkable grit and resilience. Moore’s life story includes alcoholic and distant parents, three marriages and her own battles with alcohol and illness.

She was first married at 18 and divorced six years later. Her second marriage to TV executive Grant Ticker was failing even while she was playing the beloved Mary Richards on one of his shows. Three years after the series ended, her son Richie — who for years fought his own battles with drugs and alcohol — was killed when his gun misfired.

Diagnosed with juvenile diabetes in her 30s, Moore hid her insulin dependence from the public for years. Over time, however, she became a tireless advocate for the fight against juvenile diabetes and fought the effects of the illness until her death. Moore sought treatment  for her alcoholism under orders from the doctor treating her diabetes and wrote about this struggle candidly in her memoir.

In the past decades, Mary Tyler Moore cemented her legacy in ways that will keep the beauty and grace of Laura Petrie and Mary Richards forever in our hearts. More importantly, she did so by allowing us a greater understanding of the remarkable woman who was behind the iconic characters.

Moore did not live the storybook existence of the comedy writer’s wife or the single career woman. Rather, she lived a life of challenge, pain, tenacity and achievement. And she accomplished this with a real-world smile that did, indeed, turn the world on and make us feel that we can make it after all.


Laura Kay House, MA, is the founder and owner of  Silver Connections, located in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Silver Connections provides numerous socializing opportunities through events and travel, personal service, quality members and connections for age 55+, active and single adults.


Dealing With Depression and Loneliness



Everyone feels lonely from time to time, but for some, loneliness comes far too often.

Feeling lonely can plague many people — including those who are older, people who are isolated, and those with depression— with symptoms such as sadness, isolation, and withdrawal. Loneliness can strike a person who lives alone or someone who lives in a house filled with people. “Loneliness is subjective,” says Louise Hawkley, PhD, a research associate in the psychology department at the University of Chicago. “You can’t argue with someone who says they’re lonely.”

Although depression doesn’t always lead to loneliness, feeling lonely is often a predictor of depression one year or even two years later, and it certainly leads to sadness, Dr. Hawkley says. Freeing yourself of feelings like being isolated by depression is part of the healing process.

How to Fight Depression and Loneliness

Feelings of loneliness don’t have to be constant to call for action, but you will need to give yourself a push to get back into the thick of life and re-engage with others to start feeling better. These strategies for fighting depression and loneliness can help:

  • Make a plan.There are two basic types of loneliness. Acute loneliness results from losing a loved one or moving to a new place, for example. In these situations, chances are you know at some level that you’ll have to go through a period of adjustment to get through this feeling of loneliness. The other type of loneliness is the chronic subjective type, which strikes despite your existing relationships. Both require a plan of action. One strategy is making a point to meet people who have similar interests, Hawkley says.
  • Do something — anything. In depression treatment there’s a theory called behavioral activation, which is a clinical way of saying, “Just do it.” If you’re feeling lonely and want to change it, any small step you take — even striking up a casual, friendly conversation with the barista at your corner café — is a good move.
  • Explore your faith. There are only a few strategies that are proven to successfully protect against loneliness, and this is one of them. “People who have a personal relationship with their God or a higher power tend to do well,” Hawkley notes. There are a lot of factors at work here, one of them being that faith communities provide many opportunities for positive social encounters. You don’t have to have a close friend in the community to get the benefit, Hawkley says — just feeling that you belong in the group is enough. In addition, faith can help you accept the things in life you can’t control.
  • Bond with a dog.“Pets, especially dogs, are protective against loneliness,” Hawkley says. There are many reasons why this strategy works: Dogs get you out and about, they’re naturally social creatures, and you’ll have a living being to care about. If you’re not in a position to own a dog, find ways to help care for other people’s dogs or volunteer to help dogs at a shelter that need loving attention. Other pets, such as cats and fish, can also help ease loneliness.
  • Have realistic standards.“Loneliness is a mismatch between your ideal and what you actually have,” Hawkley says. Part of the solution may be to accept that you can have fun and light conversation with a variety of people, and that it’s okay if they don’t become lifelong confidantes. Also, reflect on whether you have any unrealistic standards that are making it hard to connect with others and stop feeling lonely, such as expecting too much from a new friendship too quickly or relying on another person too much.
  • Think beyond yourself. Depression can make you feel very self-focused, meaning that everything is all about you. But remind yourself that if you ask a co-worker to join you for lunch and the person can’t make it, you shouldn’t automatically assume that he or she has rejected you. The person might have a previous lunch date or too much work to leave his or her desk.
  • Reach out to a lonely person. Whether you’re feeling lonely now or just know how it feels, you may get an emotional boost from befriending someone else who’s lonely. Some people may view loneliness as contagious, and therefore lonely people often become even more isolated. “We believe there is a responsibility in the community to reach out to people who are suffering,” Hawkley says. In doing so, you can help others and yourself, too. Examples include volunteering for an organization that helps elderly people or visiting a neighbor who’s lost a spouse.
  • Call, don’t post. Social networks are fun and can provide an essential social outlet for some people, but Hawkley says research suggests that, on average, people do best if more of their relationships happen face-to-face or over the phone. Use a pal’s post as an excuse to call and talk about it instead of posting a comment back.
  • Make time for relationships. Everyone is busy, but relationships won’t wait until you’ve finished your PhD, raised your kids, snagged the next big promotion, or moved to your ideal city. Build them now. “No one on their death bed wishes they’d worked a few more hours,” Hawkley says.
  • Talk to a trusted friend or relative. Get some feedback and ideas, as well as a sympathetic ear, from a family member or friend with whom you trust your thoughts and feelings. This person could have some ideas about groups you might want to join to meet positive people.
  • Explore therapy.I f you just can’t shake profound feelings of loneliness, isolation, and other symptoms of depression, you might want to talk to a mental health professional. Look for a professional with a cognitive behavioral background, an approach that’s been shown to help with depression and loneliness.

“Social relationships are fundamental to our thriving,” Hawkley says. The fact that loneliness feels so uncomfortable is a reminder to pay attention to and nurture these relationships that can further your happiness.

By Madeline R. Vann, MPH    Everyday Health


Laura Kay House, MA, is the founder and owner of Silver Connections, located in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Silver Connections provides numerous socializing opportunities through events and travel, personal service, quality members and connections for age 55+, active and single adults.



resiliance2As the owner of Silver Connections and working with only those age 55+, I have seen my members deal with grief from the death of a spouse, serious illness, divorce, losing family members and even children, surgeries, job loss and so many other of life’s challenges.  I am in awe quite often at their ability to move forward, their capacity to recover from difficulties, their toughness. The fact that they find Silver Connections and contact me and are making the effort to move forward, to engage, to laugh and enjoy life – shows their resilience and their ability to overcome serious hardship. Taking it one step at a time.


Author Contributor – Ronna Benjamin     “Better After 50”

A few days ago, on a cloudless, cool, perfect-for-leaf-peeping day, two friends and I decided to hike up Mount Osceola in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. For those of us who might have arthritic knees, bad attitudes, or are prone to blistering toes, the hike might be described as “pretty long and grueling,” and, in fact, that’s exactly how my husband described it to me the evening before, as I consulted with him on various trail options.

Long and grueling: full disclosure. Of course– we decided to go for it.

After close to two hours of going up climbing over boulders, stepping over roots, and more and more up, I was pretty sure that we were making good time and we were nearing the summit. It was noon, after all, so despite the snacks, I was thinking, “lunchtime…” and in my head I was doing a little Snoopy Suppertime dance. I was really looking forward to soggy chicken with Sriracha in a 60-calorie flax seed pita (don’t judge.) I kept noting to my friends that we must be quite close to the summit (I had done this hike before- I thought I recognized the terrain) and before we knew it, we’d be resting comfortably in the sun, having lunch and a sparkling water on sun warmed piece of granite, overlooking the most magnificent mountains.

That’s when we ran into a group of young people coming down, and my friend asked the question that should never be asked:

“How close are we to the top?”

A look of hesitancy came over the young woman’s face. She looked at her mileage counter hiking watch (those things are cool—got to get me one), she told us the truth that we didn’t want to hear: “You have a little over a mile to go.”

We proceeded on. Up, and more up. Step by step.

And you know what? We made it up that mountain without a problem. And we made it down, again, step by step, just a little slower.

We didn’t think of calling it quits. We barely rested. We didn’t complain. We just did what we had to do.

We finally got down from the mountain, and I turned on the car to go home, to an eerie silence. The car battery had died. We got it jumped. Later, it died again. And we got it jumped again. And while I don’t like to drive in the dark (statements that immediately age you), I drove home in the dark.

And it occurred to me when I was home in bed, that there really wasn’t any part of the day that fazed any of us. Not even a little. We took the hike in stride (pun intended), the soggy chicken sandwich and lack of dessert  (grapes are not dessert- what were we thinking?) in stride, the blisters in stride, the dead car battery in stride. We are—all three of us— strong, resilient women who can pretty much deal with anything.

Why? Because all of us, well into our 50’s, have had a lot to deal with.

Some might call it “grit.”

Some might say it’s just doing what you have to do.

My mother would call it “living with with the cards you are dealt.”

I call it resilience, and I think it is the one quality you must have in your 50’s and beyond, because while it is often better after 50 , it sure isn’t perfect. Not even close.

Resilience is getting back to living your own life to the fullest after the death of a loved one.

Resilience is finding peace with life’s greatest disappointments.

Resilience is bouncing back after you lose your job.

Resilience is finding the energy to move from a home that you love.

Resilience is giving your body the physical and mental time to recover after surgery.

Resilience is finding your life again after cancer treatments.

Resilience is the ability to say, “this too shall pass,” and to actually believe it.

Sure, stuff happens at every age. At any age you may lose a job, a parent, a limb, a spouse or god forbid a child…it’s just that at 50 and older, you can be absolutely sure that quite a bit of it is going to happen in that decade, or just beyond– to you, or to someone you love. You can pretty much count on it.

Without resilience, you’re screwed.  But with it, life can be better– as long as you make the climb up and the climb down–step, by step, by step.  And try to remember dessert.


Laura Kay House, MA, is the founder and owner of Silver Connections, located in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Silver Connections provides numerous socializing opportunities through events and travel, personal service, quality members and connections for age 55+, active and single adults.


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