If there’s one food that people associate with Valentine’s Day, it’s chocolate. More than half of those celebrating are expected to give candy this year, spending 1.8 billion dollars on sweet treats, according to the National Retail Federation. Although studies that find chocolate is good for your brain grab headlines, this Valentine’s Day consider skipping the candy and instead spending quality time with loved ones.
Elizabeth “Izzy” Barnett, 80, is a full-time caregiver for her husband, Bob, who has dementia. They have no children or family to help and Izzy has lost contact with friends because she is busy taking care of Bob. Izzy’s is not alone in this situation. Millions of older adults are socially isolated—in other words, they lack meaningful relationships with family and friends. Life circumstances—losing a spouse, friends, and loved ones, or retirement—put older adults at increased risk for isolation.
In retirement, my grandfather, Pop Pop, traveled the world with my grandmother. They went to Greece, China, Peru, Portugal — you name it. They’d spent years running a small business and raising three kids, so retirement was their chance to get away and see it all.
The winter solstice — and the shortest day of the year — will soon be upon us (Dec. 21), and not everyone is feeling the holiday spirit. Illness, loneliness, financial troubles, family problems and depression can make many dread the “most wonderful” time of the year and endanger both mental and physical health. A recent University of Chicago study found that feelings of loneliness and isolation can lead to increased stress, higher blood pressure and other health problems.
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