Social Isolation Affects our Memory
Posted in Dementia Research, News, General | Tagged in social isolation, memory and isolation, dementia friendly community, dementia engagement, dementia community, dementia community engagement, dementia caregivers, dementia caregiving, susan mcfadden, fox valley memory project, dementia, dementia fox valley
In the last few years, there has been a lot of research on the effects of social isolation on health and well-being. In 2018, the government in the United Kingdom created a Ministry of Loneliness and stated that loneliness is one of the greatest public health challenges of our time.
Little did they know how much attention we’d be paying to loneliness and social isolation in 2020!
Earlier this year, a research article reported on a study of over 10,000 people age 50 and older in England. The researchers got information from these folks every two years between 2002 and 2012. They had their memory tested with a simple word recall task and their social isolation was assessed in terms of the amount of contact they had with family and friends and whether they participated in any organizations like congregations or community groups.
Because this research gathered information from the same people every two years, the investigators were able to see whether there were changes in memory and in social contacts. Sure enough, they concluded, “social isolation is associated with declines in cognition” (p. 373). This was true for both men and women in the study.
I have several fat file folders full of articles like this one, articles that report on research showing that human beings need one another for their mental and physical well-being. That is one reason so many people are working hard to find ways for all of us to stay in contact with one another even though we’re trying to practice being “safer at home” so we protect ourselves and others from the coronavirus.
We are fortunate here in the Fox Valley to have options for connecting with others who are also experiencing social isolation. Fox Valley Memory Project is offering online memory cafés. If you haven’t tried one, do consider joining the fun via the Zoom app on your phone, tablet, or computer.
We know some people don’t have these tech items and we are trying to get tablets for people who need them. Also, let us know if you would like some help figuring out how to join our Zoomed memory cafés.
And remember, even if you don’t have the technology of the 21st century, you do have a telephone! Call Brianna (920-225-1711) if you have questions about what Fox Valley Memory Project can offer you. Call Heather (920-997-8407) if you need in-home caregiver coaching. We’re here for you!
If you feel a bit sluggish and dull these days, maybe you need to get creative about reducing your social isolation even though you can’t physically be with people. If you have a computer, and can access Facebook, think about joining the Daily Swing every weekday at 3:00. It’s 10 minutes of fun from our friends at KAIROS Alive! They’ve been calling out to us here in the Fox Valley. It’s good exercise (you can do it in a chair) and you really do feel connected to Maria and her daughter, Parker. You can also join other Fox Valley folks via Zoom every Thursday at 1:30 to dance with Maria and Parker. You get a double dose of well-being through exercise and feeling connected to other people!
Memory cafés all around the world are trying to find ways to keep people in touch with one another and they are doing some very creative things. Call Brianna if you have ideas for what would help you feel less socially isolated.
Here’s something that’s easy to remember: we’re all in this together!
Read, S., Comas-Herrera, A., & Grundy, E. (2020). Social isolation and memory decline in later-life. Journals of Gerontology: Social Sciences, 75, 367-376.