Loneliness is one of the common feelings suffered by aging adults as their children have moved away and their spouses and friends have passed. The effects of loneliness are generally overlooked and can be detrimental to a loved ones health because it contributes to a persons overall physical and mental health. Loneliness can lead to depression, cognitive decline, dementia, high blood pressure, and other unhealthy results. It is important for everyone especially seniors to have meaningful social interactions on a regular basis to prevent feeling isolated and it will also contribute greatly to a sense of emotional well being and overall good health.
With time social networks change and those changes may mean we must become more proactive to engage with others. So we should not wait for others to find us when we can pick up the phone to call a friend or family member. Some are savvy with the computer and can send a Facebook message to a grandchild away at college. But let’s not overlook the more traditional forms of communication. Who does not like to receive a hand written note (what a lost art) or have lunch with a friend? Churches, community events, support groups, and senior centers are also wonderful venues to connect with others. We could all be better off if we just offer a smile or kind word to someone we meet by chance, it may be their only exchange with another person that day and it just might give them comfort and health benefits too.
In Barbara Streisand’s song “People” she sang: “People who need people are the luckiest people in the world” Maybe they are not lucky but just realize that we all need people to help us get by.