If you knew you could contribute up to fifteen years to the life span of your residents, would you take some action? What if this could be accomplished simply by helping your residents connect with each other meaningfully; face-to-face? According to Susan Pinker, author of the upcoming book, The Village Effect, we need face-to-face contact like we need air and water. In a society where our personal interaction and involvement is declining rapidly, we are just beginning to quantify the health effects of isolation.
Pinker's book brings to light research showing that, "people with the most integrated social lives—overlapping relationships among friends, family, sports and other recreational or religious pursuits—have the best prognoses,” with the most life-threatening diseases. And it's no small impact. Recent research suggests that those surrounded by a tight-knit group of friends who regularly gather to eat, gossip, and play, live an average of 15 years longer than loners. That's a lot of years!
More than half of Americans admit they don't know the names of their neighbors. In many apartment communities, I'd dare to say that statistic could be higher. In a more disturbing development, The number of Americans with no confidants at all has shot up from eight to 23 percent, in some surveys.
Of course, we can't make people interact when they don't want to, but we can certainly create space for interaction for those who desire it. And maybe even provide some encouragement because we care about their health. Consider it a public service. It could save a life.