As we age, circumstances in our lives often change. We retire from a job, friends move away or health issues convince us to eliminate or restrict driving. When changes like these occur, we may no fully realize how they will affect our ability to stay connected and engage and how much they will affect our ability to stay connected and engaged and how much they can impact our overall health and well-being.
We need social connection to thrive – no matter our age – but recent research shows that the negative health consequences of chronic isolation and loneliness may be especially harmful for older adults. The good news is that with greater awareness, we can take steps to maintain and strengthen our ties to gamily and friends, expand our social circles and become more involved in the community around us.
Negative Health Effects of Isolation and Loneliness are associated with higher rates of:
- Chronic conditions, including heart disease
- Weakened immune system
- Depression and anxiety
- Dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease
- admission to nursing homes or use of emergency services
Here are some actions you may want to consider taking to help you stay connected:
- Nurture and strengthen existing relationships: invite people over for coffee or call them to suggest a trip to a museum or to see a movie.
- Schedule time each day to call a friend or visit someone.
- Meet your neighbors – young and old.
- Don’t let being a non-driver stop you from staying active. Find out about you transportation options.
- Use social media like Facebook to stay in touch with long-distance friends or write an old-fashioned letter.
- Stay physically active and include group exercise in the mix, like joining a walking club.
- Take a class to learn something new and, at the same time, expand your circle of friends.
- Revisit an old hobby you’ve set aside and connect with others who share your interests.
- Volunteer to deepen you sense of purpose and help others.
- Visit your local community wellness or senior center and become involved in a wide range of interesting programs.
- Get involved in your community by taking on a cause, such as making your community more age-friendly.
Source: This article was adapted from a eldercare locator flyer.