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Sep
18

Can You Really Die of Loneliness?

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In home physical therapy can save a life. It may sound ridiculous to some but, you can actually die of loneliness. The psychological effects of being lonely are actually so intense that it is considered more physically harmful to your body than obesity or smoking! Those are some pretty big words if you take into consideration that obesity & the physical side effects people have from being obese are very deadly. In a recently published study in the Journal of American Medicine claims that “Obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer, some of the leading causes of preventable death.”[1]

Recent studies from both in the UK[2] & the US have concluded that loneliness can most definitely kill a person; especially those who are older. It has been ingrained in our brains that we must age actively in order to maintain quality of life; however these studies are now showing that it’s not simply physical activity but social interaction that creates a higher quality of life. Understanding that both the psychological aspect combined with the physical aspects of aging is something that the medical world is just beginning to understand and focus on.

Isolation, being alone more often than being with others, has been found to create not only psychological problems but actually physically debilitate a person. Loneliness is not to be confused with depression and being lonely does not necessarily lead to depression. Depression itself is a chemical reaction inside the brain which can often be treated with prescriptions or lifestyle changes that produce combating endorphins in the brain. Being lonely may make a person seem “depressed” but in reality they are simply saddened by their isolation and medication is not the answer to the problem. The answer is quite simple; you need to socialize your loved one regularly in order to ensure that they don’t fall prey to literally dying of loneliness.

How can GO Physical Therapy in New York Help Combat Loneliness?

DorothyPhotoFramedGO Physical Therapy gives a one two punch; combating both loneliness & inactivity each time we visit your New York home. The one on one care our clients receive lets them know that someone truly cares about them as a whole person, not just their physical well-being. Our Physical Therapists often become like a member of their family as they talk and discuss not only the physical aspects that they are there to help with but tend to partake in conversation as they visit. However, having a physical therapist visit your home to help you get stronger is not enough socialization to ensure that loneliness doesn’t set in.

Please consider these ideas to make sure your loved one stays connected with others and feels socialized. Knowing what the alternative is should truly make you react as soon as possible; because nobody should die of loneliness in a world so full of people! We do realize that some of these ideas may not be physically able for some or that in some cases dealing with dementia could change how you react to certain types of socialization. While we know there is no one way to approach isolation and loneliness we hope that you make every effort to ensure your loved one feels socialized, no matter what their mindset may be.

  • Make a weekly date – make sure that one day a week you have arranged for your loved one to be visited by someone or taken out to enjoy a meal at a local restaurant. Be sure to leave enough time so that they don’t feel rushed & allow them to socialize with people around them; striking up a little conversation with their waitress or even someone who walks by let’s them feel as though they are back to living a social life.
  • Visit nearby Senior Centers or Alzheimer’s Meetings with your loved one. Do an online search or simply call numbers from the phone book to see what various programs are offered. Locally the Long Island Alzheimer’s Foundation often has programs and ideas that they can share with you that may help you socialize your loved one without the fear of embarrassment that you may have from their dementia.
  • Invite family & friends to visit at least one day out of the week. If you find that your loved one doesn’t get out often, especially as winter months approach, you can ask friends and family to stop by and visit. The idea is to utilize everyone and not just one person to take the time and visit. It doesn’t have to be a big event. A simple visit to make sure your loved one knows they’re loved can be made special with a new tea to try or a box of chocolates to share with their guests.
  • Local churches and synagogues often offer entertainment for those of all denominations. Watch local listings online, in the paper, and on television for different events they may hold for free that might interest.

Whatever it is to socialize; whether it’s you or a loved one, make sure you understand that the psychological dangers of loneliness and isolation are only part of the picture. Being isolated from others is against our nature and can even be deadly. In a world filled with so many people, nobody should be isolated. If you, a loved one, or someone you know is isolated take action to help them out. It could be the difference between living again and simply thriving. Let GO Physical Therapy & Wellness remove isolation from your loved one’s life with at home PT (New York areas) today!

 

Dedicated To Your Health & Well-being (and safety),

Mike


[1] JAMA,  http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1832542
[2] The Hen Power Program http://henpowerblog.wordpress.com/about/
Cited Works:
Lonely People by Craftivist Collective via Flickr used under Common License Agreement free use

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