Have you ever heard the saying, “Being alone doesn’t mean you’re lonely, and being lonely doesn’t mean you’re alone”? The psych grad in me is cringing – I can’t find its source to cite it anywhere! Though it’s only been a month, working at Il Sogno has already taught me an incredible amount of information, much of which relates to the aforementioned quote.
It’s no secret that the value of personal connections is immeasurable. In fact, it has been found that social engagement is a more potent predictor of health and longevity than is our age, chronic disease, or even risk factors like smoking cigarettes. In its absence, studies confirm there is an increase in depression, blood pressure, cholesterol, heart problems, cognitive decline, and even Alzheimer’s disease. Loneliness, then, is not only depressing; it’s unhealthy.
Luckily, we have just under 90 nonnos and nonnas residing at our community. Between the caregivers, dining staff, managers, and nurses, I couldn’t guess how many employees there are; one thing we’re not is desolate. But is that enough? As my mystery saying alludes, warm bodies don’t fill voids; loneliness is not necessarily defined as the state of being alone, but rather as a lack of intimacy. There is no significant relationship between solitude and sociability.
Truthfully, our census is irrelevant. There are 45 million seniors in the US alone, yet nearly half of them feel lonesome. Each nonna at Il Sogno requires two types of assistance: emotional support and hands-on care. The latter tends to physical needs and is necessary (but not sufficient) for survival. Emotional support, however, enhances confidence, upholds respect, and nurtures value. That’s where our hearts come in.
“Emotional intimacy depends primarily on trust, as well as the nature of one’s relationship. It frequently involves individuals discussing their feelings and emotions with each other in order to gain understanding and offer mutual support. It is necessary for human beings to have this form of intimacy on a regular basis for them to develop and maintain good mental health.”
There is no health without mental health. Warm bodies heal the wounds, but it’s love that lifts the spirits.
“Actually, what I need is to feel that I am still taking care of something. Something that returns love, that gives itself away without expecting anything back. Something that never, ever judges me but just accepts me for who and what I am at that particular moment. Something that is not hung-up about who I was, or who I am, or who I will be. … Something that is happy to be with me no matter where I live, or am forced to live (for my own good, of course). Something that remembers little or nothing of yesterday, but does its best to make today the best day of its life and, quite unintentionally, the best day of my life.”
– my favorite, Dr. Taylor
Passionate, successful care partners exude empathy and perseverance. We focus on the present, brighten days, and practice patience. We celebrate accomplishments, seek out guidance, and give thanks. We offer more than helping hands; we fill hearts and we feed souls. With love and positivity, we partner and enrich. Grazie a Dio, we’re neither lonely nor alone.