As we age, we become more and more aware of our health and what our bodies need for us to maintain a healthy lifestyle. We try to eat better. We try to exercise. We try to take our vitamins and drink more water. But could we be missing out on something that impacts our health even greater?
Science says yes.
In the United States, approximately 42.6 million people suffer from chronic loneliness.
More than one-fourth of the population lives alone.
More than half of the population is unmarried.
According to a recent study by the American Psychological Association, the above-mentioned facts are reason for health care providers to be concerned as “loneliness and social isolation may represent a greater health hazard than obesity.”
Further studies from multiple countries in North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia showed that the more social we are, the less likely we are to die prematurely.
In fact, social isolation, loneliness, and living alone have an equal or greater effect than obesity on the risk of early death.
Now that we know the effects of loneliness, what can be done to fight this new epidemic? For starters, we can get connected and encourage others to do the same.
This doesn’t mean that singles need to run out and find a spouse or a roommate, but finding meaningful ways to connect with family and friends should definitely become a priority.
The good news is that there are many ways for adults of all ages to connect with others, forming healthy, mutually beneficial relationships.
Look into becoming a member at a local book club, knitting club, gardening club, quilting bee, religious group, or other group that meets frequently where you can spend time sharing and discussing activities that interest you.
Find a walking group, gym, pickle ball team, tennis club, or other avenue for older women to get social and get a work out at the same time.
Teach your favorite hobby to someone else whether it’s your children, grandchildren, neighbor, friend, or a stranger in a class.
Sign up to take a class at a local craft store, art studio, or community college that will allow you to expand your mind and your social circle.
Find that old neighbor, previous co-worker, or friend from high school that is still on your mind. Find time to get together in person or on the phone to catch up on life.
Do you think loneliness could be as detrimental to our health as obesity? How to you engage with others on a regular basis? Do you think it’s more or less difficult to make friends in this stage of your life? Join the conversation!