Making Valentines-Your Gift Means More Than You Might Think

MAKING VALENTINES—YOUR GIFT MEANS MORE THAN YOU MIGHT THINK

We make Valentines...ok.

You might think of it as a fun activity or a sentimental gesture, but the truth is that Valentine's given to isolated adults, Veterans and service providers mean more than you think.

Although it’s hard to measure social isolation and loneliness precisely, there is strong evidence that many adults aged 50 and older are socially isolated or lonely in ways that put their health at risk. In Cambridge, 50% of people over 65 are living alone.

After Valentines are made during the MLK DAY of Service, they are hand delivered to recipients and some people look forward to those deliveries year to year. On one recent visit to an elder, this was very clear. The gentleman showed the volunteers his collection of past Valentines, displayed lovingly in his apartment and was waiting for this year’s visit to add to his collection.

By making Valentines together and delivering them, we are making connections and fostering relationships. A Valentine tucked under a door lets the recipient know that someone is thinking of them and it also might spur conversations with neighbors in the hallway-“did you get yours?” Hopefully we are giving a gift that keeps on giving. 

"Loneliness acts as a fertilizer for other diseases. The biology of loneliness can accelerate the buildup of plaques in arteries, help cancer cells grow and spread, and promote inflammaion in the brain leading to Alzheimer's disease. Loneliness promotes several types of wear and tear on the body."

What the Science SaYS

Recent studies found that:

  • Social isolation significantly increased a person’s risk of premature death from all causes, a risk that may rival those of smoking, obesity, and physical inactivity.

  • Social isolation was associated with about a 50% increased risk of dementia.

  • Poor social relationships (characterized by social isolation or loneliness) was associated with a 29% increased risk of heart disease and a 32% increased risk of stroke.

  • Loneliness was associated with higher rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide.

  • Loneliness among heart failure patients was associated with a nearly 4 times increased risk of death, 68% increased risk of hospitalization, and 57% increased risk of emergency department
 
 

"The misery and suffering caused by chronic loneliness are very real and warrent our attention. Treating loneliness is our collective responsibility"

READ MORE

https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/mental-and-emotional-health/depression-and-older-adults

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