Michael's Message - The Epidemic We Don't Talk About
- It has more effect on your longevity than obesity.
- It is linked to physical illness and stress.
- It can lead to earlier functional declines in areas like your ability to walk, get up out of bed, or a chair, drive, feed and dress yourself, pay your own bills, bathe, toilet and motivate yourself.
- It can weaken your immune system and you body’s ability to fight disease and infections.
- It can cause you to feel depressed and to lose cognitive function earlier than you otherwise would.
- In Britain it is seen as a serious public health issue, while in the US, we are not taking it as seriously. Not yet.
- Emily Dickenson called it “The Horror not to be surveyed”.
What is it?
It is loneliness. It is also called “social isolation” … and it is serious.
The seriousness of loneliness was brought to America’s attention partly by Katie Hafner’s New York Times article, reprinted in the Peninsula Daily News on Sunday, September 11, 2016: “Researchers confronting an epidemic of loneliness”.
What was not mentioned in the article was how beneficial participation with others in activities at a senior or community center can be in alleviating the problem. You can beat loneliness by exploring all that we have to do here at Shipley Center. We are a vital, nonprofit, community resource. Supporting and participating in what we do is just as important as supporting and participating in any other cause.
Our tagline, Friendship * Recreation * Education, tells what we do for each other when we come here on a regular basis. Whether it is for ping pong, exercise class, computers, a seminar, tai chi, a card or table game or to have breakfast or lunch in our The Café, you can beat loneliness by hanging out with us here at Shipley Center!
One in 3 people ages 65 and over live alone. Half of people 85 and over live alone. Loneliness is an “aversive signal,” like hunger or thirst or pain. “Denying you feel lonely makes more more sense than denying you feel hunger,” according to John T. Cacioppo of the University of Chicago’s Center for Cognitive and Social Neuroscience. We are made to be with people, so admitting loneliness should not carry a negative connotation. You are not weak; you are lonely. But prolonged loneliness might make you weak .. less motivated to move, to get out of the house, to exercise, to do much of anything.
I encourage anyone who might be feeling a bit lonely to come on down to see what is happening here at the Center. Sign up for a class or trip! Drop in on an activity! Buy tickets to the next social event! Volunteer! Don’t be socially isolated. With places like Shipley Center available to you at low cost, there is no excuse!
Friendship * Recreation * Education. It’s not just a tagline; it is who we are, what we offer and what we do. And DOING fun things, WITH other people, just might be what the doctor ordered.