I was recently out to dinner with my daughter and was seated across the table from a group of 7. They appeared to all be related; parents, children, maybe an aunt and grandma. The restaurant was packed and there was quite a wait for service. At one point I looked up and every single member of the family sitting across from me was on some type of device. Even the toddler in the stroller was watching cartoons on some type of iPad looking device. The whole scene was kind of shocking and gave me enough awareness to set down my own cell phone and focus on my daughter.
In a world caught up in social connections made through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, it is no wonder that we are considered the loneliest society. So connected, yet so disconnected. Brigham Young University conducted a study regarding geriatrics and discovered that feelings of loneliness were predictive of mortality. A Forbes article written about the study stated that feelings of loneliness are bigger health concerns than both smoking and obesity.
It seems that we were so caught up in independence and economics that disconnection snuck in under the guise of social media and we were unknowingly brainwashed by a world of technology. There are of course other contributing factors too: longer working hours, higher cost of living, the need to achieve “more”, geographically distributed families, etc…
We are more disconnected and emotionally isolated than ever before. We are also living longer. For someone who has maintained healthy personal connections, is vibrant and independent, this is good news, but to the homebound or lonely, this can mean extended years of painful isolation.
Plowshares Meals on Wheels program recognizes this need for connection and has been faithfully serving this need through the Meals on Wheels program. Each week day volunteers show up to deliver a hot meal and maintain a social connection with over 150 homebound seniors in our community who might not otherwise have their nutritional or social needs met. By developing these social connections, the Meals on Wheels volunteers recognize when a follow-up phone call is needed or an emergency contact should be called to check on their well-being.
Say “hello” to a stranger, invite someone to sit at your table, adopt a pet, open a door, leave your phone at home, volunteer, visit the senior center, bake some cookies to share, take a walk, visit the library, eat outside, plant a flower, thank your teacher, thank your banker, send a birthday card, better yet, deliver it in person. Don’t let isolation destroy our community. Get involved, Make a Difference.