SCAN Club Issue 2 2024

Leave Loneliness Behind

If you think you’re alone in feeling lonely, you’re not. Far from it, in fact. According to a U.S. Surgeon General report on social connection, as many as half of all Americans say they feel the same way.

Group of seniors laugh together on a couch.

People of all ages and backgrounds can experience loneliness. But older adults often experience more social isolation because of what tends to happen as we age: We lose friends and loved ones, we have more health issues, and money—or lack of it—can sometimes limit our activities.

Even so, there’s good reason to make the effort to have regular, positive social interactions. Being social can:

  • Improve your mental health.
  • Make you less likely to have heart disease or a stroke.
  • Reduce your risk for developing dementia.
  • Help you live longer and better.

Finding Your Way Back to the World

If you’re feeling lonely or sad, the thought of being social may seem overwhelming. Start at your own pace: Even small steps can make a difference in the way you feel.

Which of these steps can you take this week?

  • Reach out to a friend or family member you haven’t talked to in a while.
  • Attend a class or join a social group, like a book club.
  • Ask someone to join you at an event or in an activity where you have a shared interest.
  • Spark up a conversation with a neighbor.
  • Attend an event in your community.
  • Volunteer. Young people experience loneliness in even greater numbers than older adults, so mentoring a young person benefits you both.

Add more social interactions each week. You’ll soon see how easy it is to stay connected—and how much better you feel.

Lack of social connection is as dangerous to one’s health as smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day.

Source: Our Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation: The U.S. Surgeon General’s Advisory on the Healing Effects of Social Connection and Community

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