The Importance of Social Connections
It’s likely no surprise that the various social restrictions surrounding the global pandemic have changed the way we interact and gather. Living for an extended time without hugs and touch, not being able to travel safely to visit loved ones, postponed weddings and funerals…it’s all been frustrating, lonesome and maybe even a little bit traumatizing.
At Melrose Meadows, we fared far better than some of our corporate competitors because being independent and agile allowed us to listen to our residents and take their ideas into consideration as we established rules for visitors. We were also able to adjust quickly if we needed to redirect our efforts. Even though we weren’t as restricted or hard-hit as some of our fellow senior living communities, our residents and staff are excited to return to “normal” life on the flip side of this global event.
As we begin to emerge on the other side of this pandemic, vaccinated and ready to engage with people again, it seems to be good time to reflect on WHY we’re so ready to connect (and never take our social lives for granted again).
SCIENCE & HEALTH
The benefits of a healthy social life are undeniable. Our connections and relationships translate to better physical and mental health. Feeling connected to others boosts your body’s immune system and reduces risks of depression and anxiety. Author and researcher Dr. Brené Brown (who has spent her entire career collecting data and studying human nature) asserts in her work that a deep sense of love and belonging is fundamental to every human’s wellbeing.
POWER OF TOUCH
Having spent so much time social distancing, many of us are ready to get up close and personal with our loved ones. We’re craving hugs and want to hold hands. But why? For many of us, physical touch feels good because it releases oxytocin in our body and gives us a boost. Some people who have gone a long time without being touched may experience what is called touch starvation. As we get back to being able to hug people again, it’s always a good idea to ask for consent since many neurodiverse individuals (like people on the autism spectrum, for example) may experience discomfort or anxiety at the prospect of being touched.
WAYS TO CONNECT
If being isolated during a pandemic doesn’t teach you new ways to connect, who knows what will!? People of all ages and stages learned to embrace video calls and conferencing (like Face Time, Skype and Zoom) or kept closer tabs on friends via social media sites like Facebook or Instagram. Technology has made connecting with loved ones at a distance easier than ever, but sometimes there’s just no substitute for the real thing. Now that we’re interacting in person again, finding people in your community with whom you have shared interests or hobbies is a great way to make new friends and create lasting connections. For example, if you enjoy playing cards, ask a friend or neighbor to play cards. Looking for more of a group gathering? Join (or start) a weekly game night within your community.
WHY A COMMUNITY?
One of the biggest benefits of senior living communities is organized social interactions and opportunities right at your doorstep. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), nearly one fourth of adults aged 65 and older are considered to be socially isolated. That social isolation brings litany of health risks, so setting yourself up for social success is in your best interest overall.
As we open ourselves up to the world once more, may we all remember the words of Mister Rogers, who once said, “I think everybody longs to be loved, and longs to know that he or she is lovable. And consequently, the greatest thing we can do is to help somebody know that they are loved and capable of loving.”