More evidence loneliness affects our physical health

Thursday, November 14, 2019

You know the tune, you’ve probably heard a thousand times without thinking about it much:

“Once I was seven years old my momma told me

“Go make yourself some friends or you'll be lonely

“Once I was seven years old...”

The lyrics of the 2015 song by Lukas Graham progress through life’s milestones -- friends, a wife and children -- ending with hopes at age 60 that his children will visit a couple of times a month.

There are truth in the lyrics, of course, reinforced by the hard statistics of a recent National Poll that show chronic loneliness can affect one’s memory, physical well-being, mental health and life expectancy.

Loneliness may not be as simple to solve as suggested by Lukas Graham’s momma, but it’s often triggered by changing circumstances such as retiring from a career and losing the social contact that came with it, illnesses that restrict activities, or the death of a loved one.

According to the AARP, loneliness causes things like poor eating habits, loss of interest in personal hygiene or appearance and significant clutter in the home, as well as a general lack of interest or withdrawal.

Jennifer Knecht, vice president of marketing and communications at the Immanuel Communities retirement organization suggested taking an online loneliness assessment:

For a start, here are common sense steps to take to combat loneliness:

-- engage in a healthy diet

-- exercise regularly

-- create and maintain meaningful friendships

-- join in social activities to meet new people

-- learn something new

-- find a hobby

-- get a pet

-- become an active member of your neighborhood through volunteering or participating in community programs or groups.

Fortunately, McCook offers outlets and resources for each of these suggestions, from the YMCA and other health clubs, to the Heritage Senior Center, McCook Community College, McCook Humane Society, McCook Pantry and numerous churches and civic groups who welcome new participants and volunteers.

Earlier this year, the Southwest Nebraska Community Links created an activities directory, available { http://bit.ly/2CH9UQV here.}

That would be a good place to start to find activities and shared interests to stay engaged in society.

Don’t be afraid, of course, to seek out help from your healthcare provider, pastor or professional counselor as well.

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  • Anyone that performs work for the elderly in their home, soon realizes that they long for communication.

    -- Posted by hulapopper on Fri, Nov 15, 2019, at 10:47 AM
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