11 Jul ONE IS THE LONELIEST NUMBER – STUDIES SHOW FRIENDS AND FAMILY COULD ADD TO LIFE EXPECTANCY
Recent studies show loneliness can reduce life expectancy by eight years – not to mention quality of life. It is estimated that Medicare spends an extra $6.7 billion annually on seniors as a result of social isolation. Recognizing this problem, a California healthcare provider, Care More, has hired a “chief togetherness” officer to reduce health problems deriving from such isolation. Great Britain’s Prime Minister has even appointed a “Minister of Loneliness” to find out about the impact of loneliness and its health impact. People with friends and family are likely to have less stress, have more hobbies and sleep better.
There is also growing evidence that optimism about aging and having a purpose has a positive impact on health and adds about 7.5 years to life expectancy by reducing risk of Alzheimer’s disease, strokes and heart attacks as they are more likely to exercise, drink less alcohol and have a better diet. Although it is no secret that exercise and a better diet can add to life expectancy, perhaps we should somehow encourage the importance of friends and family, encourage optimism and the importance of having a purpose to our seniors for their golden years to have a healthier, happier and longer life.
For those seniors who are physically able, perhaps we should at least educate, if not give incentives for both social activity and group exercise (Tai Chi to Zumba). For those who have less physical abilities, perhaps religious or charitable organizations or those who simply want to do good deeds to make the world a little better place, maybe we can somehow identify lonely seniors and develop support groups and sense of purpose and optimism as one is the loneliest number.
If you want to join our Walk Team, Michael’s Marchers, for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s scheduled for October 13, 2018, click here. It is a fun, social event, with walks of two lengths (one a few tenths of a mile) and one that is two or three miles.