Blog

Rrrring: The Sound of Social Connection

August 20, 2017
Mary Jane Copps

Over the past few years my husband and I have been witnesses and caregivers as his mom has navigated Alzheimer’s. One of the things that is abundantly clear, and supported by research, is the importance of social interaction to combat isolation and loneliness, both of which strengthen the impact of the disease. Enter the phone conversation … an easy and powerful way we can all be supportive.

What is the current research on loneliness and how can phone conversations help?

Earlier this month, Julianne Holt-Lunstad, Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Brigham Young University, presented research at a meeting of the American Psychological Association. Her findings indicate that loneliness increases the risk of premature death as much as smoking or obesity.

“With an increasing aging population, the effect on public health is only anticipated to increase. Indeed, many nations around the world now suggest we are facing a loneliness epidemic. The challenge we now face is what can be done about it,” Holt-Lunstad said.

Canada’s 2016 census data indicates that 28.2% of us live alone, the highest level in our history. This doesn’t mean all of these individuals are lonely or isolated, but certainly this will be the experience of a high percentage of elderly, whose friends have died or whose families live far away.

Holt-Lunstad  has recommended greater emphasis on social skills training for children in schools, and for doctors to encourage social connectedness in medical screening. And that all of us should prepare for retirement socially, as well as financially.

I’m going to add that we all need to give more consideration to the oft-neglected phone call.

My mother-in-law began showing signs of Alzheimer’s about five years ago but, still a firmly independent woman, she insisted on being able to make her own decisions. This left her in a small rural community quite a distance from family. As her friends died, or moved in with their families or other care situations, she became more isolated … and her symptoms increased.

We instituted the daily phone call. She was quite resistant at first. Told us she didn’t need “checking up on” and other similar phrases. But these conversations always contained a bit of news, a lot of laughter, plans for a visit or adventure of some sort. They made a difference.

And they still do. She’s living full-time with family  now but insists we stay connected by phone. The calls are a wee bit awkward, filled with discussions of the weather, the latest jigsaw puzzle, and lots of repetition. They also contain laughter, love and plans for a visit.

This level of social interaction is not available to us by email or text. It is in the sounds of our voices, the pace of our words, the back and forth of listening and response. Phone conversations do combat loneliness and isolation, for everyone, no matter what their age or circumstance.

Who will you call this week?

#InspireConversation

Where’s The Phone Lady? 

Monday Aug 21 – Creating Consistent Revenue, CEED,  Halifax

Thursday Aug 24 –  Job Search & On The Job Phone Skills, Futurworx, New Glasgow

Friday Aug 25 – Telephone Excellence in Sales, MotionHall, Vancouver (Tele-training session)

Thursday Aug 31 – Job Search & On The Job Phone Skills, OWL, Halifax

Monday Sept 10 to Thursday Sept 14 – Customer Service Excellence, Marine Atlantic,  Sydney, NS & Port au Basques, NL

Wednesday Sept 20 – Building the Future: How Mentorship Supports Prosperity in Atlantic Canada, with Futurpreneur Atlantic and TD Canada Trust,  Halifax

Monday Sept 25 – Customer Service Excellence, Willow Esthetics Boutique, Halifax

Tuesday Sept 26 – The Role of the Phone in Today’s Business Enviroment, CloudKettle, Halifax

Monday Oct. 2 to Friday Oct. 6 – On the Road in Atlantic Canada with Propel ICT

Wednesday Oct 11 – Phone Fear to Phone Fabulous, CEED, Halifax

Friday Oct 13 – Building the Future: How Mentorship Supports Prosperity in Atlantic Canada, with Futurpreneur Atlantic and TD Canada Trust,  Fredericton

Tuesday Oct 17 – Telephone Excellence, Canadian Credit Union Association, National Virtual Conference

Friday Oct 20 – Building the Future: How Mentorship Supports Prosperity in Atlantic Canada, with Futurpreneur Atlantic and TD Canada Trust,  Charlottetown

Thursday Oct 26 – Phone Fear to Phone Fabulous, CBDC Bluewater, Porters Lake

Friday Oct 27 – Building the Future: How Mentorship Supports Prosperity in Atlantic Canada, with Futurpreneur Atlantic and TD Canada Trust,  Charlottetown

 

2 COMMENTS

  1. Peggy says:

    Thanks Mary Jane for sharing your story of your mother-in-law. I find that video-conferencing with my mother is even better than a phone conversation. She uses hearing aids and I think easier for her to understand me if she can see my facial expressions. Thankfully, we now have many ways to stay connected!

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