Not long ago, I shared with a friend the keen observation that, “Getting old is not for wimps.” You can imagine what prompted me to state the obvious. We were discussing some of our friends who face serious health difficulties.
With increasing concerns about Boomer health comes increased warnings about health risks. It’s true. As we age, health concerns rise. Ways to avoid certain cancers and tricks to keep the heart ticking, are seen all around us.
But in the May 23, 2106 issue of Time Magazine an article appeared showing a shocking health risk which ought to concern Baby Boomers. This shocking health risk for Boomers is social isolation. The article characterized this danger as risky as being a cigarette smoker: “Social isolation is as strong a risk factor for early mortality as cigarette smoking.” Lonely people face greater health risks.
I find this surprising. I would’ve never guessed that isolating yourself could potentially have as great a health risk as smoking cigarettes.
In prophetic voice, George Harrison wrote these important lines in the song Eleanor Rigby, “Ah, look at all the lonely people. Where do they all come from?”
The article pointed out that as Baby Boomers age we are more inclined to isolate ourselves from friends, family, and the world in general. People in the 55 to 64-year-old age bracket were much more socially connected 20 years ago than people in the same age bracket today. The author points to four different areas which contribute to the number of lonely people:
- We are less likely to be married.
- We talk to our neighbors less.
- We have fewer meaningful interactions with our spouse.
- And we have weaker ties to friends and families.
When you take all of this and combine it with the reality of disconnecting from your workplace acquaintances, it points to a growing number of lonely people. And that’s a problem. Other studies have shown that staying socially connected is important to maintaining good health.
Here’s a quick checklist of 9 ways to help you avoid becoming one of the lonely people as you move into your post career phase of life.
- Find a job that you love and use it to make new social connections.
- Join a club which focuses on your number one hobby.
- Become part of a health club where you can get your body in shape and at the same time make new friends.
- Utilize your freedom from an 8 o’clock to 5 o’clock work schedule to reconnect with family.
- Cultivate friendships from around the world using Facebook.
- Invite your neighbors over for a barbecue.
- Become more involved in your church or synagogue.
- Get a dog and take it for a walk everyday and make new friends.
- Volunteer at the local hospital, library, or charity thrift store.
Make the decision to remain plugged into the world around you. Don’t become one of the lonely people. Stay connected; stay healthy. It sounds simple but I’m willing to give it a shot!
Let’s begin by you and I staying connected!