“Love only grows by sharing. You can only have more for yourself by giving it away to others.”
― Brian Tracy
Today’s blog is possibly the most important that I have written yet. What? If you’ve been following along then you know that I said that the first of grand to GREAT’s five daily actions—MOVE—was possibly the most important. Now here I am with the third, SHARE, and I’m saying this blog is more important?
Well, yes. But only because most everyone already understands and accepts the notion that you have to keep moving as you age, or you risk a lot of health issues not to mention your happiness. Something that people don’t necessarily see as vital to their health and happiness, is the need to spend time with others. Yet, isolation and loneliness not only negatively impact both mental and physical health in seniors, but ‘according to a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, both social isolation and loneliness are associated with a in adults aged 52 and older.’ In a nationally representative sample of 1,604 American elders, 43% of respondents were identified as lonely. The study also proved that those who were identified as feeling lonely, died significantly earlier than those who did not experience loneliness.
As with my other posts, this is another of the things that my father has shown me "how to be" in his own life. He recently made a very long trip from Portland to Victoria, BC to visit his sister. It was her 93rd birthday and she lives in an assisted living community. When there, he went out to buy her a milkshake, which is all she asked for and they spent the time together reminiscing about their childhood days on the farm. It wasn’t an easy trip for him, but he did it because he understands the value of sharing himself and connecting. And as a bonus, it brought joy and sharing to another senior who valued it just as much.
That is why at grand to GREAT, our third daily action is:
SHARE—if you haven’t spent time with other people, do it today. Call your grandchildren or your children or a neighbor. You are invaluable, so share your life with friends and other people in your community.
Here are some ways to share and connect:
Volunteer : Research has shown that for older adults, volunteering can be an important mechanism for meeting new people and extending connections. While there are undoubtedly many social opportunities for older people in which they can interact, volunteering is able to provide a much broader and more diverse network of interactions than other types of social activities.Volunteers make contacts with people on a number of different levels, as they are able to make social ties with other volunteers, any clients they may serve and with the staff of host organizations for which they volunteer (Lee, 2008)
Join an Online Group: Another wonderful innovation of the internet is the ability to connect with people literally all over the world. And you can do it from the comfort of your own home. Facebook is a fantastic place to connect with people and even find old friends and acquaintances. Or try Meetup.com to find local people in your area who share your interests. You can even start your own group on Meetup.
Join a local church: Even if you’ve never been a regular church goer, finding a local church, synagogue or other spiritual organization near you for regular events and a sense of community.
Find interest clubs around you: Local garden clubs, golf courses, tennis clubs, and senior centers. There are local groups in your phone book that are eager to have you join them.
Call a relative or visit your neighbor: Sometimes it is as simple as picking up the phone or walking next door. When you are feeling lonely, even small moments can help. And you never know, you might be providing the same benefit for whoever picks up the phone or answers the door.
Loneliness is not a “normal” part of the aging process. Instead, it is a serious indicator that something important is missing from your life. It’s ok to feel lonely occasionally.
Everyone does. But, when you feel lonely all the time, you need to take steps to get things back on track.
With the grand to GREAT lifestyle, we combat loneliness and isolation by taking easy and sustainable action every day.