“What will future generations condemn us for?” In addition to our prison system, industrial meat production, and our treatment of the environment, Appiah listed America’s treatment of “the institutionalized and isolated elderly.” The most common pathology I saw was not heart disease or diabetes; it was loneliness.”
The United Kingdom appointed a Minister for Loneliness to address the finding that nine million British people often or always feel lonely.
Social connection significantly affects health. When you believe that you have people in your life who care about you, and you interact with them regularly, you are better off. For instance, you may be less likely to catch a cold, have a stroke or heart disease, slip into early cognitive decline and developdepression. You may even be more likely to overcome socioeconomic disadvantages, recover quickly from illness and live longer.
Among Caremore’s efforts, they screen for loneliness during appointments, have regular phone conversations and home visits with at-risk senior patients to show they care, and provide informal social hubs at their clinics to foster connection. scientificamerican.com/to-combat-loneliness-promote-social-health
The seclusion that comes with aging in America is more than just unfortunate; it’s a health problem that CareMore CEO Sachin H. Jain, MD, MBA, FACP, says affects 43% of seniors over age 65. A study in 2016 showed a direct connection between the size of one’s social network and health, and CareMore cites research that compares extreme isolation to smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
Connect seniors with local resources, including CareMore gyms at existing facilities. In some cases, home visits are needed. ajmc.com/loneliness-removes-barriers-to-togetherness
loneliness is a common emotional distress syndrome with a high risk factor for early mortality and a broad variety of physical health and psychiatric issues, it still gets little attention in medical training or in health care more generally,” Business Wire.com
“Some experts think that when you feel isolated you’re more likely to feel unsafe and perceive that the world is more threatening in some way, which leads to stress and anxiety and low self-esteem, and those can create health issues. Others believe that those who are socially isolated from others are having a harder time taking care of themselves regulating themselves. They’re not guided by social norms or cues and may engage in more unhealthy behaviors like eating poorly, substance abuse, smoking, and then others may argue that loneliness is tied to other physical issues like sleep disturbance or increased cortisol, which creates and exacerbates health issues.”
Often, she adds, they face financial problems.
“Forty percent of high-need isolated adults have incomes below $15,000 a year, and 80 percent of those people say they worry about having enough money to pay bills or afford healthy food — a rate more than double that of the total sample of adults. And even more concerning is that because of this financial hardship they’re more likely, three times more likely than other adults, to skip doses or not fill their medications.” commonwealthfund.org/addressing-epidemic-loneliness
Biblical Mandate to Smile
Smiles are not just good for others; they are good for you too. Smiles reduce stress and enhance the immune response. They make you look younger and more attractive. Smiling releases endorphins and serotonin, elevates the mood and keeps you happier.
Smiles are contagious, they light up the world. Like a candle, a smile can light many lights without itself being diminished. If you smile at 5 people, and they pass the smile on to 5 people and they pass it on to 5 more… then by the 15th passing on, you have smiled at the whole world J
Greeting every person with a smile is healthy advice. The law of greeting with a smile is rooted in the the bible. “His eyes shall be red with wine, and his teeth white with milk” (Gen. 49:12). Thus, smiling at another is greater than giving him a glass of milk. Or as I heard in a lecture, the white teeth of a smile is better than how white the milk is. It’s better to be around people who smile, than someone who has material possessions, but are not pleasant company.
What if you don’t like someone?
Look deep inside each one. Uncover that which is unique and special. Use your thoughts and intellect, to find what’s good inside. Look for the, their inner goodness. Everyone has some. Shammai is telling us to find it, connect to it, and respond to it, with an affirming, accepting, tooth sparkling smile. Your white teeth are more delicious than milk!
Consider smiling more often. And as you do, see if you can look past the outside, past the parts of a person that are hard for you like. Take an extra moment and seek out, their inner goodness, and build a bridge from your heart to theirs. A Bite of Torah.com *
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