By Stacie Zuercher, Community Program Supervisor, NW Senior & Disability Service
We spend a lifetime on our to-do lists. We cook, clean, work hard and take pride in caring for our families. But the question is, do we learn how to balance our task list with caring for ourselves? Do we make it a priority to stay connected with our community and have healthy opportunities to be social?
How we learn to balance our to-do list with opportunities to be social and play throughout our lifetime can be a major predictor of our health late in life. A recent study in the Netherlands claims social isolation can increase the risk of developing Type II Diabetes in our elder years. According to the research, participants that did not have social connections were 60% more likely to have prediabetes. Included in the study, socially isolated women were 112 percent more likely to have type II diabetes, and socially isolated men were 42 percent more likely. (Stephanie Brinkhues, 2017)
There are many reasons why we might find ourselves disconnecting from our community or becoming more isolated as we age. Contributing factors include pain, grief and loss, or mobility impairments. In many cases it also becomes more difficult to communicate or process information so noisy crowds and lots of incoming stimulation can be very overwhelming.
Another factor that can contribute to isolation is little to no natural support. If relatives of vulnerable seniors live outside of our area, they may not realize that there have been changes to their loved one’s health that impedes participation in activities that he or she was once very passionate about.
The Year of Wellness is committed to providing education and resources to help Tillamook County residents prevent, reverse or manage diabetes. If you are a senior looking for opportunities to stay connected in our beautiful community, here are some places you can start;
- Try a Tai Chi or Aqua Fitness class. The YMCA and North County Recreation District have a variety of classes for all fitness levels – and some are free! Classes take place in Nehalem, Pacific City, Netarts, Tillamook and many other areas in our county.
- Check out the OSU Extension Service, Strong Women/Strong People Class.
- Visit a local senior community center in Nehalem, Rockaway, Tillamook or Pacific City for lunch and fellowship.
- Volunteer! Consider being a Senior Peer Outreach Specialist.
- Go to church or bible study.
- Take a class and learn something new.
- Check out Art Accelerated or the Latimer Quilt Center.
- Or if you are caring for a senior who needs support, you and your loved one could stop by Wellspring Adult Day Center for lunch.
We are so rich with opportunities for seniors to maintain social connections. These are just some ideas and are truly just the tip of the iceberg. I hope to see you out there getting some playtime very soon!!
If you know a senior that may have difficulty staying connected to his or her community, call the Aging and Disabilities Resource Connection (ADRC) at 866-206-4799 via Northwest Senior and Disability Services. Support services can also be accessed through Oregon Senior Peer Outreach at communitycounselingsolutions.org/senior-outreach or by calling (833)736-4676. Or check out tillamookcountyhealthymatters.org or tillamookliving.com to learn more about activities in our community!
Brinkhues, S. (2017, Dec 19). Socially isolated individuals are more prone to have newly diagnosed and prevalent type 2 diabetes mellitus – the Maastricht study. Retrieved from http://bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12889-017-4948-6.