Loneliness is the new chronic illness

Seniors learn how to use Skype during a recent digital literacy class taught by Tak Sato at the Westlake Senior & Community Services Center.

According to a report last year in Medical News Today, loneliness is a bigger killer than obesity. It is reported to have surpassed obesity and even smoking as a risk factor for premature death. A meta-analysis of research in this area from 1980-2014 finds that social isolation increases risk of death by 30-60 percent. Unfortunately, more and more people report being lonely. Since the 1980s the percentage of Americans who say they are lonely has doubled from 20 percent to 40 percent (according to the New York Times, 2016). For these reasons, loneliness is emerging as a new chronic illness.

Since many seniors live alone and/or have experienced many losses, they are an "at-risk" group for loneliness.

The good news is that there are many options in our area to help seniors find ways to socialize and make important connections. Senior centers are places that offer many, many options. If you take a look at the Westshore Seniors website, you will find a listing of hundreds of activity options in 8 of our surrounding communities. Visit the website at westshoreseniors.org and see for yourself.

If you are apprehensive and need to first "dangle your toes in the water" before jumping in, you can always tour your area senior centers.

Westlake Senior and Community Services is open from 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, and we are happy to tour new folks and help orient you to some of what we have to offer. We are located at 29694 Center Ridge Road, and our phone number is 440-899-3544. You can also find our monthly newsletter online at www.cityofwestlake.org/community-services, or sign up for a subscription.

Here is a sampling of some upcoming opportunities. All activities listed below are free. Be sure to RSVP to 440-899-3544.

Digital Literacy for Adults

Monday, April 2, 10 a.m. – It's not too late to discover how technology can keep you engaged with your family and the world. Tak Sato from the Center for Aging in the Digital World leads this conversation. RSVP by March 30.

Memory Lane Trivia Challenge

Friday, April 6, 1:30 p.m. – Centers and clubs across the country are filling their dining rooms with excited members who love to play Trivia Challenge. This trivia quiz competition is fun, socially interactive and mentally challenging. Teams may consist of 1-6 people. The group will have a friendly competition between Westlake, Rocky River and North Olmsted senior centers. Call us if you are interested in forming or playing on a team, or just want to be a spectator. Light refreshments will be served. Held at Rocky River Senior Center.

How to Prepare you Home for Downsizing

Mondays, March 19 and 26, 1 p.m. – Realtor Sherry Ascher will be here to present a two-part series on downsizing. Topics to be covered will include: what buyers are looking for, cosmetic upgrades, what to expect while your house is on the market and much more. Light refreshments will be served. RSVP by March 15.

Take Charge of Your Health

Tuesdays, April 17-May 22, 9-11:30 a.m. – This evidence-based class developed by Stanford University focuses on developing self-management skills to "take charge of your health." People who have participated in this program have seen an improvement in their health status and decreased stays in the hospital. It is perfect for anyone who struggles with any chronic illness: diabetes, pain, hypertension or loneliness for example. Thanks to a grant, the course, complete with workbook and CD for each participant, is free of charge (as are the other activities listed above). RSVP by April 3. Space is limited!


Lydia Gadd

I am the Director of the Community Services Department for the City of Westlake. I am also a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor.

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Volume 10, Issue 5, Posted 9:32 AM, 03.06.2018