ONE IN FIVE AMERICANS OVER 50 ARE AFFECTED BY ISOLATION
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 not fully realize how they will affect our ability to stay connected and engaged and how much they can still impact our overall health and well-being.
We need social connections to thrive, no matter our age, but recent research shows 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 family and friends, expand our social circles and become more involved in the community around us.
Having a social network that meets our needs means different things to everyone. There are some actions to consider to help 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 a 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 your 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, at the same time, expand your circle of friends.
- Revisit an old hobby you’ve set aside and connect with others who share our interests.
- Volunteer to deepen your sense of purpose and help others.
- Visit your local community wellness or senior center and become involved in a wide range of interesting programs.
- Check out faith-based organizations for spiritual engagement, as well as to participate in activities and events.
- Get involved in your community by taking on a cause, such as making your community more age-friendly.
Prolonged isolation can be as bad for your health as 15 cigarettes a day. Stay engaged and remember the older adults in your lives and reach out to them this holiday season and throughout the year.