How Strong Family Relationships Can Boost Health and Happiness: Bryan & Margaret’s Story

As beings that naturally crave social connections, it only makes sense that having more of these in our lives can have a positive impact on our health and happiness.

At Foxholes Care Home in Hitchin, it’s something that we strongly focus on – and forms a core part of our ethos, which we implement in our daily strategies as a closely knit family of caregivers.

Since the beginning of lockdown and the implementation of social distancing, it’s become increasingly more difficult to maintain close connections with others. That’s why we chose to respond to this by setting up Facebook Portal in our home, allowing our residents to virtually connect with their family members and friends.

Whilst it’s been really fulfilling to see our residents continue connecting with loved ones, we came across a wonderful surprise amidst the disarray of the coronavirus.

It turns out that we have a family connection much closer to home than we thought. We discovered that Bryan and Margaret, two of our lovely residents at Foxholes, are actually cousins who grew up in small villages surrounding Hitchin; a close connection that proves invaluable at a time like this.

Bryan and Margaret reunited at Care Home, Hitchin

After their surprise discovery that they were both living at Foxholes, we spoke to Bryan and Margaret about their experiences of being reunited and their thoughts on the importance of maintaining family connections.

Bryan and Margaret spoke fondly of their close family, reminiscing about times they used to spend together. They refer specifically to a time where they used to go and visit their own grandmother together, despite living four miles apart. They enjoyed eating good food – namely pheasants and rabbit, sourced by Margaret’s own father who was a gamekeeper.

They continued to reminisce about the fun they had together in their early twenties, heading out to dances (separate ones, at that), as villages would make their own entertainment during and after the war.

After being the first of the cousins to join us at Foxholes, it was a wonderful surprise for Bryan (and us!) to discover that Margaret had come to join him. Close relationships are something that we value highly at our care home in Hitchin – and we strongly believe that they contribute to a happier, healthier life in the following ways:

Combat Stress

Cherishing close bonds with others have been shown to reduce stress – a natural response that has been shown to have long-lasting effects on our health and wellbeing, putting us at risk of a range of health conditions. Laughing with someone and thriving from close, trusting bonds can help us to mentally and physically cope with its potentially detrimental effects.

Slow Mental Decline

Strengthening relationships with loved ones can help to stave off a range of cognitive-related conditions, such as dementia, and slow the overall rate of mental decline. 

Avoid the Detrimental Effects of Loneliness

By maintaining strong relationships with loved ones, you’re keeping the risk of experiencing loneliness at a low level – and this is something that’s highly important for the older generations. 

Bryan was the first of the two cousins to join us at Foxholes. And when asked about his experience, he told us “I came to Foxholes because I’d lived alone for eleven years. I was really down, and, well, I don’t think I’d have been here now if I’d stayed by myself. 

“My daughter said, ‘It’s no good, I’m going to book you in for a fortnight’s respite’ – and so, she put me here for a fortnight. At the end of the fortnight, I said I’m stopping here – go and sell the house.”

It was wonderful to discover that Bryan wanted to stay with us long-term after his initial respite period – and it’s an absolute pleasure to have him and Margaret staying with us!

Along with discovering more about Bryan and Margaret’s story, we’ve enjoyed finding different ways of keeping our residents in touch with their friends and family. We loved partnering with the local girls’ school earlier this year, which involved exchanging letters and forming new friendships. Click here to read more.

How has staying in touch with loved ones helped you get through these testing times? We’d love to hear your stories. You can get in touch with us here, or drop us a message via our social media channels.

Alternatively, to find out more about us and our services, check out the facilities we have available at our care home in Hitchin.