SENIORS’ HEALTH: Worth it to stay social, secure and smiling

Connections are important to maintaining health, writes Louise Tremblay

The Seniors Health Network each month poses a question to health-care professionals. This month, the following hypothetical question was posed to Louise Tremblay, BC Association of Community Response Networks:

“Everyone is talking about ‘social isolation’ and connectedness and I’m not sure what it all means and why it’s important for seniors.

Why should we develop meaningful connections?”

The idea that humans are social beings may be hackneyed, but it still has validity. We rely on social systems, either externally organized or personally designed, to live a good life which by one definition means to experience health, wealth, security, socialization, personal growth and service.

From childhood to adulthood, we navigate various phases of our existence. We grow up within a family unit; we go away to university and live on campus with other students; we get jobs and interact with co-workers and we find love and start families of our own – although not necessarily in that order.

All the while, we are mostly surrounded by people and have many opportunities for social connections, some of them very deep.

Then, we get older and life changes.

For many of us, it’s a time to enjoy a second youth, explore the world or dote on our expanding families. For others, it’s a juncture that offers a different reality orchestrated by a string of unfortunate circumstances such as declining health, scarce financial resources and the loss of a loving partner.

Regardless of our situation, life can take twists and turns where we suddenly find ourselves socially disconnected and isolated.

While we may grow used to living alone and enjoy our own company, there are many reasons to create and maintain meaningful connections.

Meaningful connections may be defined differently by different people depending on temperament and personal needs.

However, meaningful connections generally entail supportive, positive, respectful, honest, interdependent and compassionate relationships with other people.

These connections are healthy, reciprocal and rewarding. They contribute to our holistic wellbeing and sense of worth, positively impacting all aspects of our existence.

On the other hand, meaningful connections should not induce guilt, indebtedness, loss of control, feelings of inadequacy, dependence or lack of autonomy as these sentiments, if sustained, are detrimental to a good life.

In this case, it would be beneficial to redirect these types of relationships in the way of good communications or to even abandon them in the face of continued disharmony.

The extent of social connection we need depends on each individual. Some people need a lot of social interaction, while others are happy to stay home alone and read a book.

The key is to ensure that we do not become isolated because social isolation can contribute to deteriorating physical and mental health and open the door for abuse.

It is well-documented that the more isolated we are, the more susceptible we are to become the target of abuse, and the more abuse we sustain the more isolated we become.

This may seem like an oxymoron because, for abuse to prevail, an isolated person needs to enter into a relationship with the abuser. But for abusive personalities such as fraudsters, isolation is the ultimate condition to achieve their desired outcome and they will find opportunities to connect with the isolated person.

By staying connected to our social networks, we can create circumstances where we can confide in and tell our story to people we trust. In sharing this way, we can get help for ourselves as well as helping others.

Meaningful connections can be achieved through many types of linkages including family ties, close friendships, spiritual affiliations and professional supports.

Given that people in our lives tend to come and go, and that we cannot realistically expect one person to fulfill all of our human needs, it’s important to keep our social networks emergent and thriving by continually reaching out to existing relationships and creating new ones.

We don’t have to be social butterflies to develop meaningful connections. All we have to do is to stay connected by going for a walk, saying hi to people, visiting the library, taking classes, volunteering or going for coffee.

Another way to stay connected is to keep track of what’s going on in the community by checking out the announcements in the newspaper and making a point to attend some of the events.

For people with mobility issues, it may be more difficult, but they could connect by telephone, converse by email, safely participate in social media, invite friends and family over for a visit or try to get out whenever possible.

Breaking isolation and developing meaningful relationships contribute to improved quality of life through better health, disease prevention and longer life expectancy.

It takes work, but it is well worth it.

So, go out there and smile at someone.

The South Surrey White Rock Seniors Health Network is a coalition of seniors service providers working under the auspices of the Mayor of White Rock’s office. For information on community resources, visit sswr.fetchbc.ca.

If you have a question for publication, please email seniorshealthnetworksswr@gmail.com

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

This Crescent Beach home, located at 12505 22 Ave., was subject of a police search warrant June 18. (Google image)
Civil Forfeiture Office alleges Crescent Beach home used to launder money

Court documents request the home, and $85,000 to be turned over to the government

Surrey firefighters battle a house fire near the 70A Avenue and 126A Street intersection early Sunday morning. According to a witness, it appears that the occupants were able to get out without injury. (Shane MacKichan photos)
PHOTOS: Fire causes extensive damage to Surrey home

Occupants able to escape without injury: witness

NDP headquarters on election night, Oct. 24, 2020. (Katya Slepian/Black Press Media)
ELECTION 2020: Live blog from B.C. party headquarters

BC NDP projected to win majority government – but celebrations will look different this election

B.C. Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau outlines her party's climate action platform at Nanaimo's Vancouver Island Conference Centre earlier this month. (News Bulletin file photo)
Green leader Furstenau declared victor in her home riding on Vancouver Island

Cowichan Valley voters elect freshly minted party leader for her second term

John Horgan has been re-elected the MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca. (File-Black Press)
Horgan trounces challengers to be re-elected in his Vancouver Island riding

MLA has represented constituency of Langford-Juan de Fuca and its predecessors since 2005

An animated Gordie Hogg introduces his 'Community Connections' videos. (YouTube screenshot)
Community Connections: Gordie Hogg speaks with Glenn Rose

Former mayor, MP began posting conversations on YouTube in June

FILE – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets Premier John Horgan during a press conference at the BC Transit corporate office following an announcement about new investments to improve transit for citizens in the province while in Victoria on Thursday, July 18, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Trudeau congratulates Horgan on NDP’s election victory in British Columbia

Final count won’t be available for three weeks due to the record number of 525,000 ballots cast by mail

Comedic actor Seth Rogen, right, and business partner Evan Goldberg pose in this undated handout photo. When actor Seth Rogen was growing up and smoking cannabis in Vancouver, he recalls there was a constant cloud of shame around the substance that still lingers. Rogen is determined to change that. (Maarten de Boer ohoto)
Seth Rogen talks about fighting cannabis stigma, why pot should be as accepted as beer

‘I smoke weed all day and every day and have for 20 years’

Provincial Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau speaks at Provincial Green Party headquarters at the Delta Victoria Ocean Pointe in Victoria. (Arnold Lim / Black Press)
VIDEO: Furstenau leads BC Greens to win first riding outside of Vancouver Island

Sonia Furstenau became leader of BC Greens one week before snap election was called

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

NDP Leader John Horgan elbow bumps NDP candidate Coquitlam-Burke Mountain candidate Fin Donnelly following a seniors round table in Coquitlam, B.C., Tuesday, October 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan, NDP head for majority in B.C. election results

Record number of mail-in ballots may shift results

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Mounties looking for teen boy ‘unlawfully at large’ from Riverview psychiatric hospital

Nolan Godron left the hospital, located at 2721 Lougheed Highway in Coquitlam, without consent on Saturday

The Canadian border is pictured at the Peace Arch Canada/USA border crossing in Surrey, B.C. Friday, March 20, 2020. More than 4.6 million people have arrived in Canada since the border closed last March and fewer than one-quarter of them were ordered to quarantine while the rest were deemed “essential” and exempted from quarantining. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Majority of international travellers since March deemed ‘essential’, avoid quarantine

As of Oct. 20, 3.5 million travellers had been deemed essential, and another 1.1 million were considered non-essential

Most Read