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The High Cost of Isolation

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By Dennis Poremski, Asbury Solomons Director of Wellness

It turns out that social butterflies are onto something vital to our health and longevity.

Links to wide range of health issues
Research on social isolation shows links to declines in physical, emotional and cognitive health, and even longevity. As we age, our social network decreases for a variety of reasons – retirement, declining health of friends or a spouse, children who relocate for work, etc. Even with clubs, hobbies, and scheduled events, living alone can mean going for long stretches without sharing a laugh or having a conversation.

Research like this and my own experience at Asbury Solomons leads me to believe that social engagement is the critical factor to address to improve our chances for aging well – and happily!

It will come as no surprise that I am partial to the benefits of a continuing care retirement community. I have seen amazing turnarounds in retirement lifestyle and heard inspiring stories from new residents who can’t believe how much their lives have changed for the better so quickly. The supports we offer for becoming and remaining engaged into our 80s and 90s are significant.

Tips for getting social
But here are a few pieces of advice for people regardless of where they live.

  • Find your purpose. Volunteering has been shown to increase our sense of well-being and happiness. If you are no longer working full-time and find yourself wanting more engagement, take the plunge. Call an organization you admire, get online or contact your local Office on Aging or library.
  • Don’t wait. No matter how fit and active we are, age brings health setbacks for the majority of us. Get out and build your network now.
  • Consider a move. If you have friends, hobbies and activities that get you out and about, and you still feel lonely, look at your options. Continuing care retirement communities are not the only senior living option. Living in a place that doesn’t empty out from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. gives you many more social opportunities.

I like to say that to age well, you need the EPA on your side; engagement, purpose and attitude. And it is people who create engagement and purpose in our lives. If you have those two factors, the attitude will follow.