Keep People In Your Life
Companionship Offers Social & Health Benefits
Humans are social beings. We need to share our needs, wants, loves, fears, thoughts and experiences with other people. Social, physical and emotional contact are essential to our everyday life.
As we age, these life-fulfilling forms of contact may be reduced by the loss of loved ones. Also, health issues that limit mobility, lower energy levels and decrease mental acuity may make sustaining relationships much more difficult. The result can be a loss of companionship, along with an increase in isolation, that leads to stress, depression and/or loneliness. In addition, there are studies that link the lack of social support to a greater instance of dementia and to heart trouble.
To avoid these pitfalls, seniors (and their caregivers) should focus on maintaining the life-fulfilling forms of contact and nurturing personal relationships...as well as reestablishing them when they are lost.
In addition to the aerobic exercise, dancing can benefit your health by providing social, physical and emotional contact.
The Federal Interagency Forum on Age-Related Statistics reported the following figures on the living situations of older Americans.
- More men (73%) than women (50%) age 65 and over lived with their spouse in 2003.
- Twice as many women (40%) as men (19%) age 65 and over lived alone.
- Living alone increased with age in 2003.
- More women age 75 and older (50%) lived alone than women 65-74 (30%).
- More men age 75 and older (23%) lived alone than men 65-74 (16%).
- Living alone increased the chance of an older person living in poverty in 2002.
- 16% of men and 21% of the women who lived alone lived in poverty.
- 5% of both men and women who lived with their spouse lived in poverty.
As you get older, it can be more difficult to find new companions and fend off loneliness. Here are some helpful “camaraderie” suggestions.
- Turn to family and reach out to friends.
- Look inside to your faith and participate at your church, temple or mosque.
- Focus on common interests. Join activities, clubs and classes offered at community and senior centers. And volunteer your services. There are plenty of organizations that would welcome you and your expertise.
- Get involved. Active participation in any of the above suggestions increases the odds of people gravitating to you.
- Love a pet. Critters offer companionship and joy. Pet therapy can help people who suffer with depression, dementia, etc.
- Go professional. Caregiver, day care and hospice services provide company and care.
(Sources: AgingStats.gov, Health Behavioral News Service, Stress Mgmt. Corner)