SOCIAL CLUB Research Suggests That Staying Connected Can Improve, Extend Your Life

By Nappi, Rebecca | The Spokesman-Review (Spokane, WA), April 15, 2013 | Go to article overview

SOCIAL CLUB Research Suggests That Staying Connected Can Improve, Extend Your Life


Nappi, Rebecca, The Spokesman-Review (Spokane, WA)


You don't text. You don't Skype. You don't do Facebook. You don't tweet on Twitter.

And you are proud of the fact, though relatives and friends urge you to connect with them through social media and other modern technology.

Enough already with the excuses. Here are some reasons to reconsider.

It keeps you connected

Loneliness harms body, mind and soul.

The Los Angeles Times recently reported on a study of 6,500 older and socially isolated men and women, tracked by researchers for seven years. They died earlier than peers who had regular social contact with others.

"The advantages to doing all of these things? It will prevent you from being lonely," said Jane McCarville, an instructor in the Community Colleges of Spokane's ACT 2 programs.

"You are not only connecting with children and grandchildren but connecting with high school friends, old neighbors, maybe military people (you) were together with in service, all kinds of people," McCarville said. "It beats isolation."

Grown children often live away from their aging parents, cutting down on the personal time grandchildren spend with grandparents.

If you video chat, your grandchildren will hear your voices and see your faces on a regular basis, McCarville pointed out.

"So when we physically go to visit them, we are not a stranger, and it doesn't take as long to warm up, because we have the relationships established," she said.

Also, modern technology is featured in films, books and on television. Understanding new technology keeps you connected to popular culture, and not just the shallow stuff.

For instance, this week on the MSNBC program "Morning Joe," host Mika Brzezinski announced that her father, former national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, now has a Twitter account. He's 85.

It's good for your brain

Learning new skills as you age tones the brain. When you feel frustration while learning your new cellphone or adapting to a new computer, your brain ramps up dopamine, a feel-good brain chemical.

Recently, researchers at University of California, San Francisco, asked study participants 65 and older to engage in mental stimulation an hour a day three days a week for three months. …

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