Many people think of their friends as their second family. Some may say that making friends is harder the older we get. However, that is not the case for Shirley Watkins, 82, and Otis Clark, 81. The two met at Mustang Creek Estates of Allen and are now inseparable. They have been best friends since Clark moved to the senior living community three years ago. They eat every meal together, participate in activities, and just relax together. What’s even more important, they encourage one another when one is not having a good day. Their families are thankful for this friendship as well because they have each other to rely on daily when family can’t be present. Studies show that friendships have even more benefits as people get older because they positively impact overall physical and emotional well-being. Watkins’ and Otis’ friendship is a perfect example that it is never too late to find your best friend.
“My daughter knows Otis’ brother from church, and when his family learned that I am happy at Mustang Creek Estates they decided to move him next door to me,” said Watkins. “Ever since then, we hang out every day. He comes with me when I go for a walk with my dog – that’s one of our favorite things to do together. He is always very nice to me, he brings me my coat and helps me put it on, and he is always there to talk to. I am grateful to have a friend like him.”
Watkins is originally from Oklahoma and moved to Texas in 1956. She was married and has two children, four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Watkins moved to Mustang Creek Estates of Allen eight years ago. She and Clark like to play bingo together or just watch TV. Clark, born and raised in Texas, worked for the Texas Department of Transportation in the highway department. Both Watkins and Clark consider this friendship to be very important.
“I am thankful to have Shirley in my life, and my family is too because they have peace of mind knowing that I have a friend so close to me,” said Clark. “We hang out with other residents too, but I know Shirley is somebody I can depend on no matter what. We want everyone to know that it is never too late to create meaningful friendships, no matter how old you are.”
Studies show that seniors with close friends tend to be more positive and optimistic and are more likely to socialize. Involvement in social activities is essential for older adults, as it has a positive effect on their health and overall quality of life. Mustang Creek Estates of Allen recognizes the physical and mental benefits that socialization and social interaction has on older adults.
“It is heartwarming to watch Shirley and Otis, they truly are like each other’s shadow,” said Angella Horton, executive director of Mustang Creek Estates of Allen. “I just love that they created an instant bond and are inseparable now. They show everyone the true value of friendship at any age.”