Age does matter in social relationships. It is assumed that older people experience more negative experiences in life compared to younger people because of loneliness and detachment from relatives and friends who are either sick, dead or migrated to distant places. Although it is generally true that older people, especially the retired and senior citizens, tend to have lesser reach in a social network, the quality of their relationships, however, tend to be more satisfying compared to younger ones.
Age is connected with experience in life. Older people have more experience about the realities of life and thus more resilient than younger adults with limited experience and who are more prone to commit mistakes and encounter conflicts in social relationships. Younger people are usually facing disillusionment or discovery period in their marital or romantic commitments during young adulthood. But the older ones have already surpassed this transition period and have “gone through the storm” so to speak. After more than 10 or more years in marital or romantic adjustment, it is assumed that they are more or less stable in their relationships and accepting of the faults and limitations of their partners, as well as their respective circles of relatives and friends that directly affect their social interactions, than younger ones.
The high satisfaction in social relationships among older adults is confirmed by a number of studies that showed that older people experienced more quality relationships than younger ones. Older adults reported greater satisfaction and fewer negative experiences in their social interactions than younger adults according to a study by Birditt & Fingerman in 2003.
Other studies also showed that older adults reported experiencing a greater intensity of positive emotions and less intense negative emotions with their close social partners than do younger adults. They also recalled that they derived greater support from their close social ties compared to younger ones. They confirmed that they have better quality ties with their children, more positive marriages and closer friendships (e.g. Rook, 1984, 2003). Thus, social support grows more positive with age (e.g. Field & Minkler, 1988).
Finally, a study by the United States of Aging Survey found that “[m]ore than half of seniors (53 percent) nationally indicate that being close to friends and family is important.” It revealed that “[e]ighty-four percent of seniors nationally cite technology as important to their ability to connect with the world around them.” It also showed that spending quality time with their children and grandchildren as very exciting:
- “41 percent say seeing their children and grandchildren grow up is the most exciting prospect of living a longer life”
- “One-fifth say spending time with friends and family will be the best part of their bonus years”
- “18 percent say they are excited to have more time to do the things they enjoy”(https://www.aplaceformom.com/blog/05-08-17-seniors-secret-to-happy-life/)
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GIF credits: Giphy.com