Staying healthy and well is important for anyone who yearns for a long and fulfilling life. As it turns out, things like stress, poor eating habits, and lack of physical activity aren’t the only factors that can disrupt this goal: social isolation and loneliness can be even more dangerous.
The antidote? Positive social connection, and one of the best strategies for achieving this health benefit every day is to become a resident of an independent living retirement community such as St. Mark Village in Palm Harbor.
Isolation and loneliness: a strong warning from the U.S. Surgeon General
In a health advisory titled “Our Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation,” U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy warns that the current epidemic of loneliness is as dangerous to one’s health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. In fact, U.S. Health authorities are calling for social isolation to be treated as seriously as obesity or drug abuse.
- Nearly 50% of all Americans are thought to be affected by social isolation and loneliness.
- Loneliness can increase the risk of premature death by almost 30%, through health conditions including diabetes, heart attacks, insomnia, and dementia.
- Lack of social connection is a risk factor for deaths from all causes, including deaths caused by diseases.
- Chronic loneliness and social isolation can increase the risk of developing dementia by approximately 50% in older adults.
“Social connection is a fundamental human need, as essential to survival as food, water, and shelter,” states Dr. Murthy. “Throughout history, our ability to rely on one another has been crucial to survival. Even in modern times, we are biologically wired for social connection.”
Download our free guide, Just The Facts: Your Guide to Independent Living.
Social connection is more than just having friends
Social connection is defined by:
- Structure: the number and variety of relationships and the frequency of interactions
- Function: the degree to which others can be relied upon for various needs
- Quality: the degree to which relationships and interactions are positive, helpful, or satisfying
The role of independent living retirement communities in a healthy senior lifestyle
Living at home alone can get lonely for an older adult. Friends move away and family members are busy so you don’t see them often. You may not feel you can rely on someone all the time. You are bored!
Now imagine living in an atmosphere of energy, activity and fun, where there’s always someone close by who can join you for a meal, a walk outside, or a chat. No more eating alone every day. No more watching the same reruns. Instead, you benefit from a calendar of activities that keeps you as busy as you choose.
Join an exercise class (it’s more fun when in a group). Share your thoughts in a book club or discussion group. Celebrate birthdays and holidays with neighbors and friends. Look forward to getting up each morning and catching up on community news.
In addition, in a vibrant independent living community, there’s always someone ready to serve you. A cheerful and attentive dining team is working hard to satisfy your appetite with nutritious and appealing culinary selections. Fitness and life enrichment experts are continuously finding new ways to help you build your strength and balance, as well as stimulate your mind. A helping hand is always available.
Senior living is a lifestyle that is good for you
Good friends. Caring, helpful staff members. Daily positive interactions that lift your spirits. The opportunity to continue to meet new people. All the ingredients for positive social connection that can help ward off isolation and loneliness and promote healthy aging—you’ll find it all at St. Mark Village!