We wish all seniors and caregivers a "Spirit of Life"
full of respect, dignity, love, and joy.
Having others say or do things that make you feel better,
and it's good for your mental and physical health.
What does strong social support mean?
How can it be measured?
How can it be developed or improved?
It's possible to be alone, but not lonely. Conversely, you can be in the company of others and still feel isolated. Some people may seem to have a large circle of "friends" but the majority are merely acquaintances who do not provide social support. Emotional support can also be obtained from pets, a firm belief in a specific religion, or being involved in supporting a cause, sports team, or celebrity with strangers who have a similar allegiance.
Social support allows the person:
- to be cared for and loved.
- to be esteemed and valued
- to feel like they belong to a network of communication and mutual obligation
There are a variety of ways to measure social support:
- through marriage
- through children
- through a significant other or confidant
- through other relatives,
- through friends through participation in social or community activities
Seniors should be given the opportunity to express the amount of support these sources provide with respect to emotional, informational and financial benefits.
It is important for them, and it offers insight to caregivers.
Social support buffers the adverse effects of stress on cardiovascular and immune responses, which can provide numerous health benefit.
Strong emotional support reduces the immune system abnormalities that contribute to numerous disorders due to the stress of caregivers for spouses with Alzheimer's disease.
- It also boosts immune system function in AIDS and HIV-positive patients.
Breast cancer and malignant melanoma patients who receive group emotional support from strangers also live longer and have a better quality of life.
- Similar emotional support is responsible for the success of Alcoholics Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous, Shoppers Anonymous and other groups that deal with addictions to drugs, smoking or reducing compulsive behaviors.
The Art of Giving Support
Wish Another Well – It's the attitude of compassion, kindness, and caring – the expression of the heart that says, "You matter to me, and I want things to go well for you."
Show Empathy - This does not mean agreement or approval or a waiving of our won rights. This is the emotional understanding of what it's like to be another person practicing three simple skills:
- Pay attention – Be fully present to the person who is speaking to you.
- Look beyond the exterior – remember there something softer that the anger or harsh exterior you are seeing.
- Checking Back – Make sure you understand what the person is sharing with you.
Reassurance – Try to relieve the others anxiety and give encouragement by:
- Touch – Taking one's hand, a simple pat, or a hug.
- Positive acknowledgment – recall anothers good qualities, successes or abilities. Self worth builds confidence.
- Reality check – When the time is right share the facts calmly.
Perspective – How much attention should a particular problem receive in perspective to the other elements in one's life.
Be Loving – a small gesture of kindness, a smile, a gentle look. Each of us knows how to be loving.