You’ve known it’s true. Even long before you were After Fifty. Even long before Covid-19. Being lonely is a difficult state to be in. But existing in a state of loneliness is more than just “difficult.” We’re now learning that being lonely is a predictor of functional decline and premature death. Says who? The American Medical Association. (Here’s the article in the Archives of Internal Medicine, Loneliness in Older Persons: A Predictor of Functional Decline and Death.) The study looked at men and women ages 60+ over a period of 6 years. “Lonely” subjects admit to feeling left out, isolated, and lacking companionship. And the more lonely they are, the more likely they are to experience difficulty with activities of daily living – ADLs, like dressing, bathing, eating; decline in mobility; and more. AND, they experience 45% increased risk of death.
So, the good doctors at the AMA, in their comment to accompany the article, wrote something that we at AFL have known all along: that is, social support is necessary at ALL stages of life!
Do we believe this? Absolutely! And the website, After Fifty Living, is a dynamic extension of this belief. Building a vibrant, responsive, and supportive After Fifty community is essential to our mission. Why? Because we believe that living a fulfilled life within a community, one in which you are respected as you respect others, is not only a noble desire, it is an essential mandate for individual and global health.
Social support, and a social community within which you receive that support, is the foundation of our lives. If you construct a building on sand, it will crumble with the first gust of wind. The same is true of our lives. If you don’t have a strong “foundation” – then the winds of life will surely cause you to crash.
Yet, you have to admit. In this age of Covid, everything – absolutely EVERYthing, is more challenging. Our children are trying to hold together careers while convening “class-time” for their young ones at the dining room table. And Zoom? Well, it’s more popular now than a first-class airline ticket to the coast! And with the political ads almost screaming at ya, well, no wonder you may want to hide out, alone, under the covers. But no. Do NOT do it.
We’ve got to make social happen in our lives. Yes, we need to take the responsibility for it ourselves and make it happen.
Yup, it’s good to know that the American Medical Association recognizes the essential role of social support and community in our lives. And becoming “After Fifty” does not diminish the need. As we move through this stage in our lives, we may find it more difficult to maintain our social connections – even without the challenges being hurled at us by COVID. But don’t let lonliness happen! Cherish your old friends, and make new ones, too. Join a virtual club, participate in an online forum, or better yet, start one. Those social connections you will develop and cultivate – well, they’re as essential to your health as the blood that flows through your veins.