Despite the negative aspects of old age - declining health and loss of loved ones - research has shown that forming and maintaining a good network of friends can have a positive effect on people's physical and emotional health. S.A. Fulbright from the University of Arkansas studied 257 older adults who used senior centres in the area to see what effect they had on improving people's lives. The study found that 88% said that they attended the centres for friends and social support. 94% of them had made close friends at the centres and 94% said that their lives had improved since they started going there. 86% said that they had made friends they felt they could rely on when needed and these people were much less likely to be depressed.
Fulbright, S.A. - Rates of depression and participation in senior centre activities in community-dwelling older persons Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing June 2010, 17(5), 385-391