If you were asked to make a list of common chronic health problems, I bet you’d include things like heart disease, diabetes, and dementia. Most of us would.
But there’s another chronic health issue spreading like wildfire in seniors. It, too, can cut their lives short. Yet, it often goes overlooked.
Even most doctors won’t think to ask about it.
But they should. Because THIS chronic problem is often a trigger for other conditions, including the ones I just mentioned. And if you already have one of those diseases, it could make them worse.
I’m talking about loneliness. And unlike other health threats, this one can’t be solved with a pill. Because neither medications nor supplements are the solutions, this time.
But there’s good news too. There is something you can do to not only make loneliness better but completely cure it. And it starts with three little words over the phone.
Erase loneliness with just 3 words
Loneliness was already practically an epidemic among seniors even before the coronavirus came calling. But the pandemic has made it even worse.
And even if cases are down where you live and things are fully open again, many seniors still struggle with loneliness. If you’re one of them, three little words could save you from an untimely end.
“Let’s get coffee.”
Because the cure for loneliness, and the risks that come with it, including that early death, is to reach out and connect with others. And as simple as it is, a coffee date (or shopping or a stroll outside) with a friend can shatter that isolation trap you’re stuck in.
Sure, you might feel a bit awkward reaching out at first. After all, the pandemic has made all of our social skills a bit rusty. But do it anyway. Simply remind yourself that this meet-up is just as important for your friend’s health, too.
3 more ways to break isolation and connect
Turn that coffee date into a regular routine. If coronavirus cases are up in your area, take it outside or go virtual. But don’t stop there.
Look for other ways to break out of isolation and ditch the loneliness once and for all. I’ve got a few suggestions.
1. Find a local book club:
Book clubs are a terrific way to meet new people if you’re a reader. They don’t just get you out of the house, either. Book club conversations are easier because you’re all there to talk about the same thing. In other words, you can say goodbye to those awkward “just met” moments AND your loneliness at the same time.
Your local library can be a good source when looking for a club to join. If they don’t have any leads for you, meetup.com and my-bookclub.com can be useful for locating groups in your area. You can even set up one of your own if you don’t find one you want to join.
And if you’re in an area with active outbreaks, many book clubs also meet online. It’s a great way to connect when you’re too nervous about going out. Plus, if you get to meet the group in person, the transition will be easy because you’ll already be part of the gang.
2. Join a church:
Even if you haven’t gone to church in years, returning could be the perfect solution to curing your loneliness. Your calendar will soon be overflowing with fun events between Sunday services, Thursday night spaghetti dinners, and charity bake sales.
Plus, they’re often looking for volunteers to help with everything from supervising coffee hours to visiting lonely church members who can’t get out (erase your loneliness and theirs at the same time).
3. Find a local class or workshop:
Check local college websites for free or low-cost courses. Many colleges have ones set up for community members to attend. And if you happen to be a senior, in many cases, any fees are waived.
Check with your local community college and any private universities in the area. If you don’t see anything on the website, call and ask if they have a tuition waiver program for seniors.
Over half of accredited educational institutions do. Plus, many colleges allow auditing of classes. This means you can attend all the lectures to blow off your loneliness without having to worry about doing homework or taking exams.
Or, if you’re an arts and crafts fan or handy with tools, check with local craft and hardware stores. Many offer free workshops from scrapbooking to building birdhouses. Typically, you just pay for any materials you need to use for the project.
Loneliness can make you downright miserable. The pandemic certainly taught us all that. But the harm from social isolation doesn’t end there. Loneliness can be a major factor in many chronic diseases.
Don’t let loneliness ruin YOUR life, or end it early. Instead, let your hidden social butterfly soar. And should you ever find yourself feeling lonely again, never forget the power of those three little words, “Let’s get coffee.”