We hear over and over again throughout our lives how important exercise and a healthy diet are to maintaining our health into old age (and the benefits of both also apply to our hearing ability), but only recently has it become clear just how important it is to keep up our social lives, whether young or old. The effect of chronic loneliness on the body is as significant as smoking 15 cigarettes per day!
It seems common sense that once we stop socializing, we can anticipate a decline in health and happiness. Loneliness is like an alert system that tells us to rejoin our fellow humans, and we need to make sure we have the tools to do so, no matter our age. Social activity is linked to potentially reducing our risks for Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular disease, arthritis, osteoporosis and even certain cancers. Being around other people we call friends and family is shown to lower blood pressure and can reduce the symptoms of depression.
Here are a few ideas of things you might do to feel more connected.
Getting out and about and working for a cause you believe in is one of the best medicines. You’ll meet fellow volunteers in the process and share together in the knowledge that you’re working to make your community, and maybe even the world, a better place.
GET A JOB
Whether you’re recently retired or haven’t worked in a long time, a part time job might be just the thing to get you back out into the world. Meeting coworkers, clients or customers will keep you stimulated with social activity, and the money you make can go to treating yourself, someone else, or charitable contributions.
JOIN A CLUB
Are you an avid reader? Join a book club! Do you like gardening? How about a garden club? Maybe there’s something you don’t know much about, but you’re interested in learning more. If you can’t find the club you’re looking for, consider getting one started if you can find other people who share your interest.
If there’s an educational institution like a college, community college or university near you, they likely offer courses to adults who aren’t enrolled full- or part-time. It could be a great opportunity to explore something you’ve been curious about, like history, philosophy, another language, or even writing or art classes. It’s great to keep your brain active not only with social activity but also pursuing the things you’re curious about.
GET A GYM MEMBERSHIP
As mentioned, physical exercise is also crucial to maintaining our health as we age. Exercising at home or going for walks is great, but if you’d like to throw a little social activity into the mix, consider joining a gym where you can exercise, get instruction on the best exercises for you, and meet other people.
STAY IN TOUCH WITH FAMILY
It might go without saying, but going out of your way to stay in touch with the people who are important to you is great for you, and for them. If you live close enough, you can offer to help out with babysitting or running some errands. Invite someone over to dinner, or offer to bring dinner to them. Busy people always appreciate a good meal.
KEEP UP WITH TECHNOLOGY
Especially if you’re not geographically close to family, being able to use new technology can be very important. Having a computer or tablet available will allow you to use video conferencing to see and hear the people who are close to you in realtime. You can also use the internet to shop for almost anything, and even to participate in conversations about your interests. If there’s no local club that celebrates your interests, there’s always one on the internet!
Being socially active will have benefits for your physical health and mental well-being long into your future. In fact, social isolation is one of the most dangerous consequences for those with untreated hearing loss. If you’re having new trouble hearing and haven’t gotten a hearing test recently, make an appointment with our team sooner than later. The benefits of treatment are vast and there are serious consequences to putting it off.