Lack of exercise, not eating nutritious meals and neglecting to get enough sleep can all have detrimental effects on both your physical and cognitive fitness. But there is another condition that may have a profoundly negative impact on your health.
A lack of connection with others.
Social isolation is different than loneliness. It’s possible to live alone but not feel lonely or isolated, just as you can also feel lonely while being surrounded by people. The National Institute on Aging defines the two as follows:
Loneliness: the distressing feeling of being alone or separated
Social isolation: a lack of social contacts and having few people to interact with regularly
Older adults are at a higher risk for both social isolation and loneliness as changes in their health or accessibility to others may be altered. This might result from memory loss, a disability, difficulty in mobility or transportation, or the loss of family and friends.
Although not always easy to measure, the impression that social isolation and loneliness can leave is serious.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted the following research findings:
Even if older adults may be at an increased risk of social isolation and loneliness, the great news is that there are many proactive steps they can still take. There are also multiple benefits that can be realized, boosting your physical and mental health as well.
Here are 5 suggestions to consider that can help get you started.
Your options are almost limitless here so spend some time thinking of what you’d enjoy the most. Would you like to join a book club so you can read the latest fiction or historical novels followed by lively discussions? Or how about a political or advocacy group where the ideas are exchanged and free-flowing?
Not your style? Consider an aerobic, exercise, stretching or flexibility class to join. Having others around also provides an extra bit of motivation. Or what about learning Bridge or another brain stimulating game that requires partners?
Is there a special cause that speaks to your passion or an interest you always wanted to support hands-on but never had the time? Now is your chance. You can not only work toward a good cause but also benefit from the social interaction with others.
The benefits of volunteering are many, including helping you to feel happier and more fulfilled. People often realize a deeper sense of purpose and meaning to their lives, as well as increased feelings of self-confidence and a decreased sense of anxiety. And you’ll be around others while helping others – a great way to avoid isolation.
Another consequence of growing older is that it may become more difficult to meet new people and make friends. You might have had a wide social circle when you were younger but may have lacked the time. Now, the opposite may be true.
But that doesn’t mean that you can’t form new relationships. The advantages of friendships run deep, and you may find that they become the most special at this point in life. Look for ways to meet others who you have much in common with or who may inspire you to tap into your inner artist or to travel more.
You won’t meet many new people staying at home so it’s important to get out into the world. You may be surprised at all the opportunities there are. Take some time and consider where you would have the best chance to meet others and which opportunities might align with those of which you have an interest.
Just being active naturally puts you in a better position. Look for activities that require the participation of others. Consider sporting games such as tennis or pickleball, card or board games, walking groups, discussion clubs or other areas that invite multiple players.
Would you like to know one of the easiest ways to avoid social isolation and loneliness? All while enjoying many more benefits?
Independent living communities have been designed with all of this in mind.
Take a moment and visit a local community to get an idea of how easy it would be to handle any challenges of loneliness and isolation, all right outside of your front door.
You’ll discover a wide variety of activities so you’re sure to find something of interest. Social events make it even easier to meet your neighbors and residents. You’ll also find classes, a fitness center, dining options and common areas offering even more opportunities to meet others. You may end up wishing you had more hours in each day.
Social isolation and loneliness can have a serious effect on your health but you just may discover the perfect solution at Ingleside’s Westminster at Lake Ridge Independent Living.
Our community is designed to support you in aging well, including staying active, eating healthy and meeting and making great friends.
Take a look at what our vibrant community has to offer:
Please visit our website for more information or call (703) 420-7105 if you have any questions or would like to schedule a personalized tour today.