Changes in Our Social Life
As you age, you may begin to notice changes in your social life. Once simple tasks, such as attending monthly meetings or making time for lunches with longtime friends, have now become strenuous tasks. Perhaps now there are caregiver responsibilities that take up time or hearing aids that might be a little too embarrassing for you to wear in public. We all have our own reasons for why our social lives change. However, being alone with no one to talk to can be more harmful to your health than you might think.
Statistics on Social Isolation
Social isolation is the lack of frequent social contact, often (though not always) accompanied by feelings of loneliness. Research has shown that social isolation is as deadly as smoking 15 cigarettes a day and increases the risk of premature death by 30 percent.1 According to AARP, 17 percent of older Americans over the age of 50 suffer from social isolation.2 Often times those who feel lonely are not always single, living alone or even widowed. Some cases, people are married, or caretakers.3
How to Reconnect or Help Combat Social Isolation
Luckily, there are many opportunities for you, your family members and friends to combat social isolation and reconnect with someone you know who might be feeling a little lonely these days. Here are some tips on how to reconnect with someone who is socially isolated:
- Give them a call. Calling people can help them feel included. If you’re not sure what to say, ask them about how they are feeling and what they have been up to.
- Invite them to a class you attend such as an exercise class based out of your community center.
- Share a meal together. Eating together can help them practice good nutrition and provide conversation, while also helping them out of their house.
- Offer to carpool with them to an outing such as a class or to lunch with a group of friends.
- Be sure to give support to those who recently have lost someone close to them. Ask if they need to talk about anything and if you could provide any support they may need.4
Social interaction keeps you healthy. It helps you maintain better cognitive function and emotional health, improve physical health, boosts your immune system, and even increases longevity. And best of all, both you and the person at risk benefit!5