Correlation of Loneliness and Depression within Communities
Aging can often attribute to loneliness. We lose the elasticity within our skin, and the joints between our bones start becoming strained. Physical changes followed by mental and emotional changes. According to the Behavior Health Trends in 2014, individuals ages 50 and older have maintained the highest percentage of having any type of mental illness through the years 2008-2014. The data in these trend reports show almost 20 percent of individuals ages 50 and older are dealing with a mental illness. One of the most prevalent is depression.
Depression is one of the most common mental illnesses. In older populations, depression is often linked to loneliness, living alone, or lack of community/social ties. Technology is constantly changing and cities expanding. We have grown into an isolated country. Visiting grandparents used to mean sitting at the kitchen table with relatives. Unfortunately, now we minimally communicate. This is usually through texting, short phone calls and sometimes through Facebook. Individuals disconnected from the community often create an environment with a high vulnerability to loneliness.
How We Can Create Supportive Communities to Decrease the Risk of Loneliness
Older Adults are mainly affected by depression and loneliness. How can we create a supportive environment that would decrease the likelihood of becoming lonely? Thankfully, there are many different routes to make the effects of loneliness improve. Check out some of the ways we can reduce loneliness:
- Social Ties: Creating shared emotional connections is something we all benefit from. Building social ties with family members, friends, or co-workers is how we feel that sense of belonging. Try gathering together to have game night or creating conversation over a cup of coffee to maintain those social ties.
- Healthy Behaviors: Get moving or dive into nature! People who make improvements in diet and exercise have been shown to increase a positive mood and shows a decrease in the symptoms of depression. Team up with a group of people to take walks around the neighborhood. Maybe try out a Tai-Chi class that you have been curious about for months. Check out that new bike trail to get some fresh air!
- Physical Environment: Neighborhoods, apartment complexes, and town-homes. What do they have in common? These types of housing ensure community! Furthermore, having quality public spaces to come together to is another way the physical environment decreases loneliness.
Try out some of these ideas to improve mental wellness!