Winter is a time of year when feelings of loneliness and social isolation occur for many people – regardless of age. But a recent study shows that for older adults, these feelings can manifest into poor health outcomes, such as:
- An increased number of falls
- An increased risk for all-cause mortality
- An increased risk for dementia
- An increased risk for rehospitalization
This same study indicates 43% of older adults who live at home are impacted by isolation, and thereby at risk for the poor health outcomes listed above. “With a prevalence of over 40% and the sheer number of older persons projected to increase exponentially… social isolation will likely impact the health, well-being and quality of life of numerous older person now and in the foreseeable future.”
And seniors aren’t the only folks impacted by loneliness and isolation. It has also been shown that family caregivers are at a high risk of social isolation as well.
But whether we personally feel isolation and loneliness ourselves or know someone who may be affected by it, it’s important to know that there are some easy ways to reduce these feelings in ourselves and/or others. Check out the list below with some ways you can help “spread the love” this Valentine’s Day” – and any day for that matter!
5 Ways to Spread the Love this Valentine’s Day
1. Dinner Dates! Not just for couples: Eating with others is inherently social. Invite a loved one to share a meal with others whenever possible – whether it’s with a church group or a friendly cafe or diner. As an added bonus, dining with others is also likely to promote better nutrition!
2. Dairy Queen isn’t the only place for a great Sunday: For Churchgoers, this weekly social connection has been shown to be quite beneficial. “Those frequently attending religious services have been found to have lower mortality rates than those with infrequent attendance,” the study reports. churchgoers not only benefit from the social interaction and sense of purpose that weekly worship provides, but they also benefit from the watchful eye of other churchgoers, who are likely to recognize if something is amiss that otherwise might go unnoticed.
3. Hugs: The Original “Best” Medicine: There’s nothing like a hug. Research has shown that affection such as hand-holding or hugging can lower stress and promote well-being. On the other hand, people deprived of touch can experience decreased well-being. A hug a day keeps the doctor away!
4. Ask not what your country can do for you: Studies show that people who have a sense of purpose are less likely to succumb to the negative effects of social isolation. Volunteering is a great way to get socially healthy, have a sense of purpose, and help your community all at the same time. Not sure where to start? Head on over to www.volunteermatch.org – a nation-wide organization that matches inspired people with inspiring causes.
5. Grab your bags… Adventure Awaits: Travel can have profound impacts on your mental and cognitive health, says Psychologist Jean Kim, MD (source) “Travel disrupts your routine and introduces novelty to your brain, which improves cognition, mood, and creativity”. Whether it’s a day trip to the sea or the mountains, or an international adventure – grab a friend and get out there! Adventure awaits…and it turns out, it’s really good for you!
Get Social with Us!
If you, or someone you care about, is dealing with feelings of loneliness and isolation, living in a community like one that Vantage Point Retirement Living operates is a great way to be more social and enjoy spending time with others. With plenty of opportunities to engage and socialize just outside your apartment door, there is always something to do it and someone to do it with! If you’d like more information about one of our communities or a list of upcoming events with opportunities to socialize, click a link below to get in touch with us!