It’s funny that I came to this point, right now, by remembering a video that I had seen on youtube recently. It has been around for awhile. Look it up when you can as it is so well done and very funny! It now has over 3 million views! It’s done by Sebastian Maniscalco and is called “when your doorbell rang 20 years ago VS now”. Ok so how do the two correlate? I’m getting there! If you watch this video you know that back when my generation was younger, dropping by your neighbor’s house for a coffee was a regular thing, phone calls in the evening, you know, those big black or beige phones that either hung on the walls or sat in the kitchen on the counter? Do they still make those? I was thinking about back in the day and also reading some research about the topic of heart disease.
I remember when I owned my own home. I lived in a town just outside the big city, only 50 mins. I had the home, the career and two young children and volunteered in my free days (every other weekend) I can remember not knowing a soul. Okay, I lived in a townhome of 5 in a row and I knew the neighbors on each side. Just to say hi as I slid into the door, and hid away for the weekend. The point is, is that we went from dropping by and having coffee or ringing up friends to see how they were or dropping by for a piece of pie in the evening or even listening to kids playing outside in the streets playing kick the can and hide and go seek. Do kids even play hide and go seek anymore? Did you notice that people were happier then? I remember. It seemed that back in my day, there was an innocence and a different feel to things.
Now fast forward to this day. With a pandemic and social distancing and isolation people seem angry, lost, depressed and even we are seeing many deaths. Your attitude towards other people can have a big effect on your health. Being lonely increases the risk of everything from heart attacks to dementia, depression and death, whereas people who are satisfied with their social lives sleep better, age more slowly and respond better to vaccines. The effect is so strong that curing loneliness is as good for your health as giving up smoking, according to John Cacioppo of the University of Chicago, Illinois, who has spent his career studying the effects of social isolation. Although it’s hard to measure social isolation and loneliness precisely, there is strong evidence that many adults aged 50 and older are socially isolated or lonely in ways that put their health at risk. Recent studies found that:
- Social isolation significantly increased a person’s risk of premature death from all causes, a risk that may rival those of smoking, obesity, and physical inactivity.1
- Social isolation was associated with about a 50% percent increased risk of dementia.1
- Poor social relationships (characterized by social isolation or loneliness) was associated with a 29% increased risk of heart disease and a 32% increased risk of stroke.1
- Loneliness was associated with higher rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide.
- Loneliness among heart failure patients was associated with a nearly 4 times increased risk of death, 68% increased risk of hospitalization, and 57% increased risk of emergency department visits.” I’ve heard of the suicides though in seniors, depression and suicidal thoughts in children and youth and the feelings of desperation in adults. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, studies show the morbidity rate is very high with social isolation or even perceived social isolation. Firstly, the prevalence of loneliness increased commensurate with deferred marriage, increased with two income families and with single family homes. In addition to these changes, the internet has completely changed the way we interact and connect with one another.
As I sat here and digested all this information, I thought about that video that makes me laugh so much and then thought about the seriousness and reality of this video and how much it is getting worse. I have to say, I applied for a part time position recently. It was a very flexible position that would allow me to continue to coach and write. The one thing that I found odd though and a bit unreal, was that they require you to be 15 mins from their office, which of course is downtown. Wow, I thought, that’s kinda crazy that in this fast paced world, instant gratification world, that in an ad and contract for a job they would require that you stay in the job for a year, and that you live 15 mins from your workplace. That really told me something about the way the world is going. I will be totally honest with you, it makes me extremely sad. I’ve seen people waste away from loneliness that turned into alcoholism that turned into heart disease. I see and feel the anger in the world like I’ve never seen it before.
I know that our world has changed and continues to change at a rapid rate and I for one am looking for ways to bring back the concept of “community” back into my world. I encourage you all to do something similar as well. Not to get lost in the loneliness of society or the panic and fear that is prevalent online with everything you read and hear. For me, I will be inviting some women my age, for online dinners and meet-ups once a month. It will bring me connection and community but at the same time it is a chance for us to share ideas, come up with solutions and maybe do some good in our community to help people work through some of the issues that I see today. Thank you all for listening to my rather long blog today. I am thinking of also doing some Vlogging as well so watch for that in the near future. What can you do in your community to help bring “connection” back to the community? What can you do for the seniors in your neighborhood so that they don’t feel so isolated? We all need to switch our mind from “Fear – stay away from everyone to Connection and how can we keep each other safe, yet feeling connected and valued”. That’s what’s on my mind today.
With all that I am, In Gratitude.