I just finished reading my recent AARP Bulletin and found an article that really resonated with the work we have been doing on social capital, relationships and community building. It was penned by Jo Ann Jenkins, the CEO of AARP and summarized the keys to better health.
The 2 key ingredients reviewed are "friendship and purpose." Here are some of the things reported:
People with viable social connections are more likely to get plenty of sleep, eat healthier, have peace of mind and less stress. They state that loneliness is the new smoking and being lonely can shave 8 years off life expectancy. The mortality risk for loneliness is greater than that of obesity and that social isolation of older adults is associated with an estimated $6.7 billion in additional Medicare spending annually.
Social isolation is such a problem around the world, that foundations have identified it as the key issue today. The UK has appointed a "Minister of Loneliness" with the challenge of measuring the impact of loneliness and to find strategies in Great Britan that can deal with it. Similarly, CareMore, a health care provider in California has hired a "Chief Togetherness Officer" to directly address loneliness and its impact on health.
The other variable, "purpose," is equally impactful. A sense of purpose for many people is more important than money, and it has been associated with a variety of health issues. Studies have found that people with a sense of purpose get better sleep, have fewer hospital stays, and see their physician less. They eat healthier, tend to exercise more, and avoid drugs and alcohol.
Further, optimism and purpose can add 7.5 years to your life, and help you heal more quickly, and show significantly less cardiovascular issues. Without question, lifestyle and choices we make can have a huge impact on creating a better life.
Think about this and do your best to nurture your relationships and the directions you have chosen. Friendships (social capital) and purpose are vital elements to life success. If you need to find a purpose in your life, come join us at CLASS, as we work to build a community where everyone belongs!