There's an old saying that tells us we don't know what we have until it's gone.

And that's as true when it comes to people as it does to material objects. Many of us with an older person in our lives don't always take the time to appreciate them and what they have to offer.

It's tragic on a number of levels, and it actually can impact the health of a senior. That's because having a strong social support circle is a key factor in overall health when it comes to aging.

I found the latest evidence of this in the pages of the August American Journal of Public Health, but it really only confirms what we've learned from previous studies.

In the latest effort, researchers followed nearly 3,500 seniors for a decade.

The researchers found that seniors who reported stronger social support networks had overall better health. On the other hand, those who said they were unhappy with their support reported poorer health.

It's as simple as that.

I've told you before about the importance of staying sharp and engaged as you age to help ward off dementia. And it's been clear for some time that seniors who withdraw – especially after they lose a spouse – tend to get sicker and lonelier.

So if you're older, don't let that happen to you – and don't wait for help to come to you. Seek out friends and loved ones and stay connected. Sometimes, all it takes is a gentle reminder.

If you have an older person in your family, don't let life get so busy and hectic that you never have time to see them. Make them an important part of your family and your life while you still can.

You know you'll miss them when they're gone. But for now, you can help make sure they remain healthy simply by being there for them.