I was delighted to receive an email from Executive Editor Allison Haramoto stating that this year’s theme for Pacific Citizen’s Holiday Special Issue would be “Celebrating Connections.” Since I was planning to submit an article about holiday gift ideas for seniors, this theme made it easy for me to narrow it down to one item.
Let me share why science and research say “connections” are important. An article I found on www.healthnews.com titled “The Power of Social Connection for Longevity” (Nov. 9, 2023), says that research has consistently shown that seniors with strong social connections and a sense of belonging can lead to a longer lifespan, largely through the following factors and influences:
(1) Improved health — People with strong social support networks have a lower risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attacks and strokes. Social connection has been linked to improved immune system function, as well as decreased levels of inflammation, which is associated with chronic diseases and accelerated aging.
(2) Healthier habits — Having a strong social network can influence people to adopt healthier behaviors and avoiding harmful habits like smoking or excessive alcohol consumption. Social connections can also provide motivation and companionship for engaging in regular exercise, leading to improved physical fitness and overall health.
(3) Cognitive stimulation — Engaging with others in social settings fosters mental agility, creativity and problem-solving skills. Social interactions stimulate intellectual discussions, thus enhancing cognitive function and boosting longevity.
(4) Emotional well-being — Social connections alleviate feelings of loneliness and isolation, promoting a sense of belonging and emotional well-being. Having a network of supportive relationships also provides emotional support during difficult times, contributing to overall mental well-being and supporting longevity.
(5) Improved adherence to medical treatments — Social connections can positively impact adherence to medical treatments and therapies, leading to better management of chronic conditions and improved health outcomes. Some studies have even found that people with strong social support networks tend to experience faster recovery and healing following surgeries, illnesses or traumatic events.
(6) Sense of purpose and life satisfaction — Social connections contribute to life satisfaction by fostering a sense of belonging, purpose and interconnectedness. Being part of social networks provides a supportive community that enhances overall well-being and creates a fulfilling and meaningful life.
(7) Social connection and mental well-being — Social connection is not only essential for our physical well-being, but it also has profound effects on our mental health.
(8) Reduced stress and anxiety — Social connections offer a supportive network that can alleviate stress and anxiety through understanding and empathy. Having strong social bonds can also help with navigating challenging situations by providing a sense of security and reassurance.
(9) Improved self-esteem and confidence — Social connections provide validation and acceptance, which can enhance self-esteem and boost confidence. Supportive relationships also offer feedback and encouragement, enabling personal growth and increased self-assurance.
(10) Enhanced resilience — Social connections provide a valuable resource for coping with life’s challenges and accessing different perspectives and solutions. Being part of a social network also fosters a sense of support and belonging, which strengthens resilience and promotes mental well-being.
(11) Improved mood and happiness — Engaging in pleasant social interactions promotes positive emotions and laughter, which contribute to a happier and more joyful outlook on life. Sharing experiences and activities with others also fosters a sense of enjoyment and connection, leading to an uplifted mood.
That said, always remember that one of the very best gifts you can give to an older loved one is your presence and attention — those are priceless to your seniors and will always make a difference. But sometimes, physical presence can be a problem. So, here’s what modern technology has come up with — a TV that your parent appears in and talks to you in real time (a lot like “The Jetsons”).
ViewClix Smart Frames are the perfect way to easily connect with a senior loved one when visiting is not possible. Why? Because the senior doesn’t need to do anything. It’s kind of like a Zoom meeting for seniors with Alzheimer’s. Since all the features are managed remotely by family and friends, there’s nothing the senior needs to do to enjoy.
ViewClix Group Calls are an instant, hassle-free way to see each other and chat. There is no scheduling or invitation links to send for Group Calls. Simply start a Group Call and instruct family and friends to join, transforming the way families stay in touch with seniors. Best of all, it’s a “tech-free” experience for the senior.
Judd Matsunaga is the founding attorney of Elder Law Services of California, a law firm that specializes in Medi-Cal Planning, Estate Planning and Probate. He can be contacted at (310) 348-2995 or email@example.com. The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the view of the Pacific Citizen or constitute legal or tax advice and should not be treated as such.