A monthly update from the Cape Ann Health & Wellness committee. Building a community network of wellness through education and shared resources for body, mind and spirit.
A healthful lifestyle includes eating well, being physically active, getting enough sleep and avoiding tobacco. One factor few people consider is connection to others. However, studies show social isolation and loneliness has more negative health consequences than obesity and is as dangerous as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
While they are interrelated and both pose a risk to health, loneliness and social isolation are not the same thing. Loneliness is a personal feeling of being disconnected from others. Social isolation is objective and based on the number and type of contacts an individual has. The key idea, however, is that being connected to others matters; and it matters a lot.
Aging can be accompanied by circumstances that increase the likelihood of social isolation or loneliness such as developing an illness or disability that makes it harder to get around, outliving family and friends, or losing the ability to drive. But loneliness and isolation are intergenerational; a survey conducted by the health insurer Cigna found that nearly half of all Americans reported sometimes or always feeling alone or left out and that millennials and Generation Z adults are lonelier than any other U.S. demographic group.
There are antidotes to social isolation and loneliness; engaging in activities that offer face-to-face contact with others will help. The newly-formed Age & Dementia Friendly Cape Ann initiative is exploring solutions to social isolation and loneliness and taking steps to create a supportive, welcoming environment where all residents, regardless of age, health status or socioeconomic background can thrive. To learn more or register for the May 1, “Aging Together: A Summit to Explore Building a Community for All Ages” visit www.adfca.org.