One of the top maladies to affect people in their sixties is loneliness. (click here)
For adults over 60, loneliness seems to increase the risk of dying earlier, according to a study in JAMA Internal Medicine that followed more than 1,600 men and women enrolled in the University of Michigan Health and Retirement Study.
Researchers defined loneliness as lacking companionship and having feelings of isolation or not belonging. Those who reported loneliness were nearly one and a half times more likely to die during the six-year follow-up. In addition, people who were lonely were less likely to be able to do simple daily tasks and activities, such as walking around the block, dressing and showering, and carrying objects as light as 10 pounds.
Other research suggests ways to alleviate loneliness, even in the second half of life. For example, adults over the age of age 51 who had lost a spouse through widowhood felt less lonely when they started volunteering more than two hours a week.
Even though DH and I have each other, we both understand the value of having several friends as we age. For me, I like to get out with the ‘girls’. For DH, he likes the camaraderie he feels when he is with the ‘guys’. And often enough, we like to socialize as a couple with other couples.
One of the best places for us, as well as for you and others, is to find friendship at your local churches or places of worship. You will find yourself immersed in social and spiritual activities not only good for your soul but also good for social interactions. Many churches have volunteer programs, study classes, sports activities, spiritual retreats as just a few examples of the many programs these houses of worship have to offer. Many of these activities are free or low cost. In these instances money is not a problem. Finding and keeping life long friendships is.
Knowing all of the above, DH and I joined a new church yesterday. Our friends have been going to this church for the last seven years and have always raved about it, so we decided to join in. There are two services on Sunday. One at 9AM. The other at 11AM. Both services serve a continental breakfast before hand. DH and I met our friends at 10:30AM to have both a light breakfast and join in on the services. There was a bake sale going on sponsored by the parents from the Sunday Worship School, a list of activities we can join, bible study classes and an all-woman spiritual weekend retreat up in the Adirondack Mountains scheduled later on this month! The church is actively involved in the community and the positive affects it has on its participants was quite evident. DH and I want to become part of this new spiritual group.
After service, which ended around 12:30pm, DH and I went out for lunch with the group at a local diner. The costs were minimal (Thank the Lord) and it was terrific to be with other people, sharing lifelong stories, experiences, family secrets and funny, funny jokes! Next week, after service they picked out a different restaurant (also very low cost). I realized I should include our newfound religious activity costs into our monthly budget so that we wouldn’t be caught short. The benefits added to our lives by joining this new church was going to be priceless PLUS the Good Lord always provides!
“We need old friends to help us grow old and new friends to help us stay young.”