Developing and maintaining connections along with having a true sense of community, is critically important for all stages of our lives. Unfortunately, some of us feel like we lack meaningful connections at times. Feelings of loneliness are increasing in levels throughout the country and world. Former U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy states, “During my years caring for patients, the most common pathology I saw was not heart disease or diabetes, it was loneliness.” Especially when dealing with a complex medical issue, we need to make it a priority to reach out to and surround ourselves with people we can rely on, those we can trust. Making and maintaining meaningful connections can help us be healthy and stay healthy. Take a moment and reflect on the long term and short-term connections you can count on: family members, friends, neighbors, and colleagues.
Also, there are a number of organizations that can provide additional support as well. When someone is dealing with a cancer diagnosis, for example, Gilda’s Club has free services that are available to support the entire family, not just the patient. Their motto is, “No one has to face cancer alone” and their mission is to ensure that all people impacted by cancer are empowered by knowledge, strengthened by action, and sustained by community.
If you or a loved one is affected by Alzheimer’s or Dementia, The Alzheimer’s Association has a helpline that is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to assist in many ways: communication strategies when those with the disease may be in crises, to share strategies for redirection, research opportunities, or simply to lend a listening ear. Their website also has education available for those dealing with the disease as well as the caregivers who are supporting their loved ones affected by these diseases.
Some organizations focus on providing physical assistance like rides to and from treatment and meal supplements and others help by connecting those who have had similar medical situations. These are just a few examples of thousands of community support systems that can be helpful. Ask your medical team for recommendations and reach out to others inside and outside your community. Learning more about what various organizations have to offer may turn into meaningful connections that are often available to those who are dealing with specific health concerns. Take a moment now and consider who your connections are and then do some research on how organizations can also be of help to you. There are countless ways that your current and future connections can potentially support you and your loved ones going forward.
Who is in your circle of trust?
Wendy Benson, MBA, OTR/L