There is a beautiful story related through an elder in the Mi’kmaq Indigenous community, Danny Paul, who said “We’re kind of like trees. On the surface, every tree looks like it stands alone. Beneath the surface all the trees in a forest are connected.”
Loneliness and social isolation are now considered diseases, and rightfully so. They are key factors in aging and related illness. Kaiser states individuals who report social isolation and loneliness are more than 9 times more likely to experience poor health; nearly 20 times more likely to have a poor quality of life; 22 times more likely to have mental health issues (expressly depression and anxiety); and 5.7 times more likely to have insufficient funds to buy food.
Yet, during this pandemic, research reveals that adults 60 and better are experiencing less pandemic-related depression and lower levels of loneliness than younger adults. According to a recent study, some seniors have been able to broaden their social support networks.
If you or someone you love is not finding the connections that boost their resilience, remember that seemingly small things make a big difference. Identify a trusted neighbor or friend who can visit regularly and can serve as an emergency contact. Try reviving an old hobby or learn something new – there are easy options for participating in learning opportunities on our website. Just getting into the out of doors can make a big difference for those with mobility issues – scheduling time to get a friend out on their porch or volunteering to help someone who cannot get out are both useful solutions. And homebound consumers who have home-delivered Meals on Wheels report significantly less loneliness.
You can find more tips on staying connected at: https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/loneliness-and-social-isolation-tips-staying-connected. And our website provides caregiver resources and information about ASI programs in Archuleta County, as well as contact information for making reservations at The Community Café for take-out and for Meals on Wheels.