Social Wellness - A Prescription for Seniors

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - July is Social Wellness Month. A study at Brigham Young University found that people who stay connected with strong social relationships live 50 percent longer.

Dr. John Culberson agrees. He's in Family Medicine but specializes in Geriatrics.

He says a lot of research is pointing to the same concern, that living in isolation can be a serious health hazard.

"It showed that being isolated and lonely is even more of a risk factor than some of the common  risk factors like smoking, obesity and even lack of physical activity," Culberson said. "Shopping trips to Walmart or whatever, it doesn't matter where you go as long as you're not at home alone."

Dr. Culberson says there's more and more evidence that humans are social animals and that being social is just good for your health.

He wishes more physicians would incorporate that advice in their practice.

He says when someone is isolated and lonely, they increase the risk of depression, which we know can have negative physical side effects.

Dr. Culberson says, "The stress of being alone is very detrimental in almost every way, like blood pressure but even more, it's a matter of losing your will to move forward."

But Dr. Culberson was anxious to get back on the positive side, hoping viewers will take the advice of Social Wellness Month and use that prescription for a lifetime.

And he says that social media counts.

"They're doing a lot of studies with older people who are not able to get out and around and they're staying connected through Skype and other social media."

Dr. Culberson said it's too soon to see if regular use of social media increases lifespan, but he says if it prevents loneliness and isolation, it's bound to help.

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