Be creative in social and family interactions to benefit your physical and mental health

At this time of COVID-19, when most seniors have narrower space to enjoy life because of isolation and the fear of the virus, there is a danger on their physical and mental health. We are isolated, mostly alone and the visit of the loved are too limited.

“Bakit naman ganito ngayon? Wala kang mapasyalan, wala kang bisita, baka sa mga darating na araw, luka-luka na ako,” one of my senior friends told me during our conversation.

Yes, we are in crisis for lack of social and family interactions.

Before, the officers and members of OFSAM (Original Filipino Associations of Manitoba) have been very active in social interactions and events like “Mother of the Year,” “Mr. and Ms. Valentine,” and “Ms. OFSAM.” We also get to celebrate the birthdays of each member.

Now, with this COVID-19, everything is shut down. Isolated and in some cases, alone in an apartment.

Angela K.Troyer, Ph. D. C. Psycho shares that, “Socializing can provide a number of benefits to your physical and mental health. Connecting with friends may also boost your brain health and lower your risk of dementia. She added that you may live long and will enjoy better physical and mental health.”

At this time of pandemic, a senior has to be creative in social and family interaction. Though a lot are not tech savvy, they have to at least learn the basics of using a gadget and social media.

“Mabuti naman at may Facebook, nagbi-video call kami ng aking mga anak sa Pilipinas, nakakausap ko ang aking mga apo,” added my senior friend.

I am also a senior and I am not alone. My nephew Clarence is living with me. My son, Ron and his wife, Donna and my grandson, Lorenzo, have regular visits; so does my niece, Ellen and her husband, Ray. And even my younger son, Johnny, based in Vancouver, calls me regularly.

And you must be creative and resourceful to fill the in between of their visits-writing, gardening, cooking and talking! Talking with whom? With my former UST students, colleagues, associates and classmates via Facebook.

Dr. Troyer further advises to use Skype or Facetime to catch up with family and friends from a distance.

Not in my wildest dream that I’d be connected again with my former UST folks. I thought after immigrating to Canada and leaving all the memories of friendship, interacting would be impossible with them.

Facebook has also done so many good benefits of interconnecting with your lost cousins and relatives.

Lately, three long lost relatives and a long lost childhood friend sent me friend requests which, of course, I approved. They are now among my regular chatmates on Facebook and Skype, exchanging old stories about family, profession and life in general.

To date, I think I am the only professor who is a member of eight UST Facebook chat groups. Not to mention the other social and family chat groups that I keep where social interactions are fully attained.

As one of the psychologists says, “Social interaction and family interaction are number one and number two, respectively, detectors for longevity.”

Furthermore, in a study of 7,000 men and women in Alameda Country, California which begun in 1965, Lisa F. Barkman and S. Leonard Syme found that “people who were disconnected from others were roughly three times more like to die during the nine-year study than people with strong social ties,” John Robbins recounted in his marvelous book on health and longevity, Healthy at 100

To my fellow seniors, be creative and be resourceful. It seems that COVID-19 is still long way to vanish until a vaccine is finally found.

I told my senior friend, “Phone your friends and talk about anything under the sun.

Talk about the glories of chatting and dancing during the OFSAM days.”