No more isolation

Isolation Avoidance – You Never Need to be Alone

No more isolation
Isolation is very bad for your health. It can be avoided.

Isolation is a growing issue in our society.   Isolation is being chronically alone with no support.

Many cultures function as a family unit, and as family members advance in age, they are incorporated into the daily life of younger generations. Senior living, assisted living, and nursing homes are not options in those cultures.

For other families, members spread out to various parts of the country or even to other countries. Members no long live in the same community where they can care for each other. Or, members might live close together but have busy schedules that hamper time together. Then, there are instances when there are no family members to provide care. Perhaps friends have their own needs and are unable to be supportive.

Risks of Isolation

Isolation is sometimes a gradual situation, as it gets hard to get out and about. Other times, an injury or medical event rushes someone from an active lifestyle to a homebound situation.

Unfortunately, I have seen too many examples lately of medication changes that led to sudden isolation. These medication changes cause dizziness, sedation, nausea, diarrhea, incontinence, or some other side effect that made it hard to leave the house. Often people don’t recognize the link to the medication change. Many people try to ‘live with it’ and consider it a new normal.

Isolation is not good for your health. It is not good for your physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual health. Through many studies and experiences of people of all ages, the negative effects of isolation are many! Some of the most common are:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Alcoholism
  • Increased blood pressure (due to more stress hormone production)
  • Higher reaction/perception of stress
  • Heart disease
  • Decline in thought processes
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Increased suicide rates

Isolation remedies

A concept considered in these blogs before is that we all need to be needed. Isolated people suffer from sensory deprivation, lack of social interaction, and that important concept of being needed. Total lack of interaction can actually play with your mind leading to loss of time perception and even hallucinations.

So, how do we help people avoid this isolation?

There are a number of different kinds of living communities for adults over 55. These include independent living, assisted living, dementia care, and more skilled care. All aspects of care are integrated into one community with a wide range of activities to engage all interests. These are designed to avoid isolation. If you are living alone and feeling isolated, consider the many senior living options in your area. [We can help you find a professional to show you the local options and help you through the process.]

If you don’t think your budget will allow a community option, or if you really don’t want to leave your home, there is another low-budget, high-reward option. You are not the only person feeling isolated. You have two primary responses.

Be resentful and hopeless ==> takes you down a negative, unhealthy path

Reach out to others ==> you and those you reach will both win!

There are SO MANY people feeling isolated. And, as our population ages and the culture continues to change, the numbers are rapidly growing. Finding someone else in a similar situation can be a solution for both. Calling to check on each other, remind each other to take medication, and just share life can be so healing.

I have been marveling at a member of our church. She had an accident riding a horse and is now paralyzed. She has very limited use of one hand, just enough to operate a special wheelchair. She can’t type, drive, dress herself, or fix her hair. So many in her situation would experience the symptoms listed above. She went from living life fully functional to loss of most functions in one incident. (Now, I’m sure she has had some very low moments.) Overall, she is hopeful and finding new ways to live a full, fulfilled life. One of the things she is pursuing is training as a ‘Stephens Minister’. This will put her in the first line to help other members of the church during a time of distress. The main pastors can’t always get there immediately, so the Stephens Ministers can be first responders. I’m sure she will encounter hurdles that she will need to overcome, but she is putting herself out there to continue to be needed and avoid the deep depression and isolation that could so easily consume her.

So, if you can make a phone call, answer a phone call, type a message, let someone in the door to visit, there are some important, exciting ways you can be fulfilled, needed, and avoid isolation.

We would love to help you figure this out. If you are feeling isolated and aren’t sure what to do, please contact us at www.medsmash.com or 410-472-5078 or michelle@medsmash.com. Together we will help you avoid isolation in ways that inspire and fulfill you.

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

We are designed to be members of a community. Jesus surrounded himself with his disciples and many others. He regularly visited close friends, like Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. In Acts, the new church lived, worshiped, studied, and shared all things together.

There are even several verses in the Bible that emphasize these principles.

Hebrews 10:24-25 ESV

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 ESV

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

As members of the church, I encourage each of us to especially aware of those in our community who might become isolated. It is amazing how much assistance you can provide with simple visits, phone calls, text messages, e-mails, or any outreach. Let those people know they are not forgotten. Help them find those opportunities to still reach out to others and find purpose in helping others avoid isolation.

Galatians 6:2 ESV

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

1 Corinthians 12:14 ESV

For the body does not consist of one member but of many.

I will be praying for God to show me where I can be helpful others, especially those who are isolated. The negative impact of that is so great! And the remedy is so attainable. I pray the whole church finds those opportunities to reach out and keep all connected in the love and fellowship of community.

Blessings,
Michelle

 

We need to be needed

We NEED to be NEEDED to maintain our HEALTH

We need to be needed
We all need to be needed even if it is to care for an African Violet

Have you ever thought about the link between being needed and health? As I’m thinking about it, that link could probably go both ways. I am wanting to tell you about the health benefits of being needed. But, I’m sure you could make a case that being overworked in constant demand can have negative health implications.

Think of a woman you know who went from caring for children and her husband to now being in an empty house with infrequent visits from children.

Think of a man or woman who worked in a very demanding job with a lot of responsibility who has now retired.

Often, we dream of the day everyone is raised and on their own. We dream of the day we reach the point of retirement.

Then, when that day comes you find yourself lonely. It is not as exciting as you expected. Reading books and relaxing can get boring.

Aging joints, accidents, and new medical conditions can create changes to retirement plans. Loss of a spouse can create changes to retirement plans. Children with jobs that take them away can create changes to retirement plans.

Social isolation

Social isolation is a real hazard to your health. Social isolation is when you don’t feel like your belong, don’t have much interaction with other people, don’t have people to call to get out and do something, and no/few close personal friends.

Social isolation can be bad for your health when it leads to drinking, being less active, or eating less healthy meals. It can increase your risk of heart disease, stroke, dementia, or depression.

We all Need to be Needed

A very innovative program was launched in the early 1990’s called Eden Alternative. They call their method, ‘person-directed care’. When I first heard about it in the 1990’s a very clear picture was left in my mind. A senior living facility had enhanced their environment by bringing in a cat, a dog, birds, a garden on the lawn, indoor plants, and a baby chick. There was a woman who wanted to spend all of her time in her wheelchair. The physical therapists were trying all they could think of to encourage her to walk and get stronger. She refused. Then she saw the baby chick. She did not want it to be eaten by the cat, so she put the chick in her wheelchair and pushed it. That chick, of course, became a chicken that continued to get first-class rides in the wheelchair.

Even people who were extremely incapacitated were given ‘jobs’. Even if it was caring for an African Violet. Some planted and worked in the garden. Some fed and cared for the birds. Some brushed the dog. Residents could sign up for the responsibilities that met their interests and abilities.

It was impressive how depression, anxiety, and pain were so much better with these changes. Since that time, the Eden Alternative has grown and spread and documented even more inspiring outcomes.

New Ideas to Decrease Isolation

I know many people who live in areas where they don’t feel safe getting out to walk. Some no long feel safe driving. Some don’t have the desire to get out and about without a partner.

So, some really smart minds have been working on ways to keep all of the health benefits of interacting with other people. Here are some of the creative options:

Virtual senior center. Using technology, you can take art classes, chat with others, participate in yoga or tai chi, and other activities. There are a lot of ways to keep in touch with family, read to someone, discuss topics, and support each other with technology.

Concierge driver options. Uber and other driving services are starting to offer unique options to take the stress out of getting out. There are groups working on strategies to provide more helpful driving service for people with walking aids, ways to coordinate outings such as restaurant or art gallery trips, and ways to make driving services more easy to coordinate.

This is only a very quick overview of the importance of interaction with other people, the dangers of isolation, and some of the many new ideas being developed. Stay tuned; I think we will all be amazed at what is to come.

For more information about the need to be needed and the dangers of isolation, or for updates on the amazing new advances we are hearing about, please contact us at www.medsmash.com or 410-472-5078. We’d love to tell you more!

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

We just discussed how our continued health needs us to stay active and engaged after retirement. Becoming alone is hazardous in many ways. We need each other. We never lose our need for purpose and fellowship.

And, we all have a purpose. We get so caught up in our daily details. We get so discouraged by our limitations, frailties, our weaknesses.

But, we are here for so much more! I’ve always heard this life is just a short, short preamble to a life of eternity in the presence of Christ! Can you even fathom that? I try then find it is so hard to begin to grasp!

We are assured of this truth numerous times in the Bible.

John 3:16 ESV

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

John 5:24 ESV

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.

Romans 10:13 ESV

For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

And while we are here in this life, we aren’t asked to sit around and twiddle our thumbs. We have a purpose!

Romans 8:28 ESV

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Jeremiah 29:11 ESV

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Sometimes we wonder what that purpose might be. In my experience to date, the purpose can even change over time. Things happen that seem strange and nonsensical, then suddenly, it turns into something only God could have planned.

I do my best to not make my own plans but rather stay open to what God has planned. That’s not meant to be pious. I have learned through a lot of changes, huge mistakes, and amazing teachers that my life is more fulfilling when I’m doing what God is calling me to do. It’s become a really wild ride, but I wouldn’t miss it. In the darkest times I need to remember that God can turn it all into his purpose and his plan.

Proverbs 16:9 ESV

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.

I’m praying you find comfort in the promise of eternal life when God is Lord of your life. And, I pray you are asking Him for your purpose and blindly trusting Him to lead you on your personal adventure until He calls you to eternal life!

Blessings,

Michelle