The Perimenopausal Mamas Podcast

The Perimenopausal Mamas Podcast

Episode 90: Community Medicine: How to Fight Loneliness to Live A Longer Healthier Life

September 09, 2021

In today’s episode, Dr. Lisa and Dr. Toni are discussing how community medicine is the wave of the future and often the missing link in your health care. You need connection and community to support your well-being and stick to healthy habits. Your kids also need community now more than ever. 

How does loneliness affect your health?

Loneliness and weak social connections:

* associated with a reduction in your lifespan similar to that caused by smoking 15 cigarettes a day* can shorten your lifespan by 8 years!

Harvard research suggests feelings of social isolation are on the rise and that those hardest hit are older teens and young adults.

The results of an American study conducted in October 2020 showed 36 percent of people reported feeling lonely frequently, almost all the time or all the time in the prior four weeks, compared with 25 percent who recalled experiencing serious issues in the two months prior to the pandemic. 61 percent of those aged 18 to 25 reported high levels.

Also in the US, June data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that 63 percent of young people reported experiencing substantial symptoms of anxiety and depression. 

* “Being socially connected needs to be seen as much a part of a healthy lifestyle as eating right and exercising.” Julianne Holt-Kunstad

Stanford University’s Centre on The Demography and Economics of Health and Aging found that lonely people were more likely to:

* Have extended hospital stays* Need more expensive treatments* Need support of skilled nursing facilities instead of in-home rehabilitation

Participants who were socially isolated had a 50% higher risk of death

Other negative outcomes of social isolation and loneliness demonstrated in research are:

* 26% Higher risk of premature death* 29% increased risk for heart disease* 32% increased risk for stroke* 40% increased risk for Alzheimer’s* 25% increased risk for cancer


* affects 25% to 60% of older Americans, almost as prevalent as obesity* puts millions of Americans 50 and over at risk of poor health

Your social connections at age 50 predict your health status at age 80

How? Epigenetics!

Changes in the expression of hundreds of your genes can occur as a function of physical and social environment you inhabit.

Research indicates that perceived social isolation and loneliness heightens sensitivity to social threats and motivates the renewal of social connections, but it can also impair: 

* executive functioning * sleep * mental well-being* physical well-being

The more isolated people are, the less happy they are, and brain function declines as well as physical health. Together, these effects contribute to higher rates of morbidity and mortality in lonely older adults.

What impact does connection and community have in your life?

Online groups are available to provide support to achieve a common goal during the pandemic while in person programs may not be available. Some examples include Wild Collective, Landmark Worldwide, Peloton, Alcoholics Anonymous, various book clubs

Habits are contagious!

* Your habits are influenced by your community:* happiness, smoking cessation, suicide risk * Happiness increases by:* 15% if you have a happy ...