Over the last year of social isolation and distancing we have learned many things about the damage done by breaking the bonds of social interactions. The pandemic’s forced social distancing, paired with increased vulnerability to infection for certain age groups and those with certain health conditions, led to serious mental decline, increased depression and growth in substance abuse. Overall, those most impacted by social isolation clearly demonstrated the many dangers associated with this lonely lifestyle.
God made us to live in relationships, first with our Maker, and then with each other. We read in Genesis 2:18, “It is not good for man to be alone…” so God created a “helper” for Adam when He made Eve. While Adam was in fellowship with God from his first breath, his human nature needed to be in relationship with another human. Social relationships enhance our quality of life on many levels and also encourage us to grow toward becoming our best selves. Family caregivers frequently find themselves living very isolated lives. Social connectedness can strengthen and support the health and welfare of family caregivers and those they care for alike.
Relationships can be nurtured effectively by using modern technology, which can adequately bridge physical separation by fostering a sense of social connectedness. Social health can be strengthened through remote technology connections like phone calls or video chats, emails, and text messages, or through more traditional vehicles like note cards and letters, but nothing takes the place of in-person conversations. Using a variety of means to overcome physical separation can enhance one’s health on many levels.
Family caregivers frequently battle isolation and loneliness. Negative health impacts include depression, substance abuse and addictions, poor nutritional habits, forgetfulness, sleep disruption, and increased diagnoses of chronic diseases. Satisfying the need to feel connected through interactions with family members, friends, church fellowship and support groups can significantly improve overall health, yielding such benefits as increased brain function, better nutrition and self-care, and improved caregiving stamina and ability.
Chris and I hope you’ll join us this week here at Heart of the Caregiver and share your heart about strengthening your social connections.