If anyone has been following me, read my book, or been a friend or client of mine knows very well that my prescription for wellness and survival always involves socializing!
This concept is nothing new, nor do I claim to have in anyway created it! True happiness is always based upon doing for others, being with others (who support us!), and being involved with others for a common goal. Why? Because no man is an island and our self-concept and self-esteem come from the mirroring we receive from other people.
Is it a surprise to anyone then why depression, narcissism, children diagnosed with emotional or behavioral disorders, substance abuse, teenage suicides, cyber-stalking and/or bullying are so prevalent today as opposed to 40 years ago or more?
It only takes a moment to realize that we as a society are becoming less and less social. Play dates, isolation, texting, emailing, home-entertainment and social networking have taken the place of greeting cards, letters, phone calls, stick ball games, community activities and much more. As far as we have come technologically, we’ve fallen far behind socially.
Ezra Klein reported in The Washington Post, April, 9, 2013, that there is a connection between loneliness, social isolation and mortality. Klein reported on a study conducted by Andrew Steptoe, Aparna Shankar, Panayotes Demakakos and Jane Wardle who studied 6,500 men and women over the age of 52 from England. The Longitudinal Study was begun in 2004 and 2005. The researchers measured the participants feelings loneliness and objective measures of social isolation. Following this, the researchers studied mortality rates over the next seven years.
The results found that those who were the most socially isolated, or those with the least amount of human contacts, were 26% more likely to die during the study than those who were more connected to other people! These connections, according to the study, provide not only emotional support, warmth, and connection to reality, but also can make positive suggestions like medication compliance, according to Steptoe, which makes a tremendous difference to people who don’t regularly receive such care.
Steptoe also considered those who prefer social-isolation. Again, this data shows that even those who choose to be alone can only benefit from people in their lives that are at the very least, a connection to make sure they are okay, and if something goes wrong in their lives, there is someone who cares!
As we with good health go about our busy schedules, alleviating the mortality rate of social-isolators we know is simple. Call grandma once in a while, visit Uncle George or Cousin Polly just for the heck of it! This is desperately needed for countless reasons, not only because of the mortality rate of our elderly, but because its the right thing to do! Caring raises our sense of worth and happiness, and simply might (and will) make a world of difference from anyone in our lives that has minimal or no social contact!
Our Senior Citizens are a well of knowledge and insight! We can only learn and benefit from what they have lived through, and their wisdom is invaluable to all who understand that! The benefit of connecting with our Seniors goes both ways! They give, we get. You give, they get!
“Old people just grow lonesome. Waiting for someone to say…”hello in there! Hello.” (John Prine, American song writer)
Read more posts by Leo Battenhausen, MSW, addiction and mental health counselor. Leo is a blogger for JenningsWire.