There a bunch of things that we are told not to do and to do more of as we get older. If you are over 50 and you think extreme sports like bungee jumping or skydiving is something you should not do, well that’s not true. What you really should not do and can affect your lifespan to a large degree is actually social isolation.
Loneliness and isolation is emotionally, psychologically and mentally extremely damaging. Dutch-Canadian gerontology researcher Eddy Elmer said in William J. Kole’s The Big 100: The New World of Super-Aging that loneliness “causes a wear and tear on the body that becomes more pronounced over time”
Another expert in geriatrics, Dr Roseanne M. Leipzig who works at geriatrics, palliative and internal medicine at Mt Sinai Hospital concurs saying that loneliness in old age can increase your risk of dying by 26%. It also increases your risk of heart disease and stroke as well as dementia.
Therefore maintaining social relationships lowers your risk and helps you sleep better too.
According to Kole’s book loneliness is so prevalent among senior citizens, that the United States and Japan have added “ministers of loneliness” to their cabinets.
“It may seem that just saying hi is a meaningless gesture, but in actuality, it brings you into connection with another person, and this is often one of the things that you feel is missing when you feel lonely. Sometimes, this is called a ‘weak tie’. By connecting with people, even superficially, you have someone you can consider going to when you need support of engagement (the proverbial ‘cup of sugar’) and vice versa –they will feel more open connecting with you,” says Dr Leipzig.
Leipzig says that although this seem like weak ties it can strengthen over time and result in introductions to new social groups and networks. Research also shows that the more weak ties a person has the lower one’s sense of loneliness. Staying healthy also means building stronger ties with people.
Older and stronger ties
It’s also important to stay close to family and old friends as these are stronger and older ties which help you emotionally. “It takes time to develop deep friendships but it starts by taking the lead in reaching out to friends and suggesting you get together.”
Cover Photo: Unsplash
The post Staying Healthy: The one thing you should never do if you’re over 50 appeared first on The Independent News.