Never in the history of humanity have we had the opportunity to be so connected, and yet, people find themselves lonelier than ever.
Three-fourths of Americans experience moderate to high levels of loneliness, said a study published in the International Psychogeriatrics (2018).
The study found that loneliness follows people throughout their lives with especially higher rates for people in their late 20s, 50s, and late 80s. The pain of loneliness is more than psychological and can be associated with physical illness. No age, race, or sex seems to be immune to loneliness, but some sociodemographic factors can affect loneliness throughout one’s life. The most interesting paradox of aging brought up in this study was that as physical health declines, mental health tends to improve with age.
Could improving mental health be — the age-old concept of wisdom?
Wisdom, according to the Lexico Oxford dictionary, is “the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment; the quality of being wise.”
Often it is associated with traits of resilience, perseverance, and optimism. Wisdom usually defines a person who has learned from life’s lessons, grown through mistakes, and through it all developed empathy for others.
The USC study defined wisdom as having six components: control over emotions; compassion; self-reflection; acceptance of uncertainty and diversity of views; decisiveness; and spirituality.
According to the study, “Wisdom had the largest impact on loneliness, followed by living alone and mental well-being.” By default living alone may contribute to social isolation, but a positive aspect is that wisdom may help battle that. And as we all know there is no greater way to create and foster wisdom than through learning.
Often the wisest people are those that continue to learn and explore. Considering that many people have been forced into social isolation with COVID-19, it is good to know that questing for knowledge helps to not only occupy one’s time but also to foster wisdom.
How can older adults avoid loneliness and gain wisdom at the same time?
GetSetUp is tackling social isolation and loneliness during COVID-19 one grain of wisdom at a time. They have cultivated a vast wealth of wisdom by creating a platform for educators over 50 years of age to teach their peers over 50 skills to help them battle loneliness and gain wisdom.
One of these wisdom Guides, Wade, works with teaching skills such as setting up Zoom tools so adult learners can stay connected with friends, family, loved ones, and, for those who are still working, keep up with the COVID-19 business demands.
Another Guide, Marge, is helping to guide her peers to get them set up with Medicare. She knows firsthand the problems with not filling out forms A and B prior to turning 65. She’s helping her peers not to face the same worries and doubts she did by ensuring they are prepared for life’s next curves in the road.
Glenda is guiding users on how to use their iPads most effectively. She helped design and create the course, learning new skills herself in the process. One of the things she loves most about being a Guide for GetSetUp is that she constantly gets to learn new technology tools, not just continuously repeat old outdated tools.
GetSetUp is tackling isolation and loneliness head-on to ensure Guides, adult learners, and those they love are all connected and interacting. GetSetUp knows that socializing through fun, live, interactive classes helps learners keep their minds active, and these fun connections are essential as we age according to the Alzheimer’s Association.
Not all lonely people recognize their symptoms of loneliness as — well — loneliness.
According to the study in International Psychogeriatrics, less than 10% of the people asked if they feel lonely admit it, but tests show that it is much more common than that. Sometimes wisdom helps battle the mental and physical pains of loneliness through the pursuance of knowledge.
There are many courses online but only GetSetUp offers customized classes for those over 50 taught by their peers, and learners keep coming back for more grains of wisdom, fun interactive socialization, and self-paced learning in a tell-show-do environment. Maybe return students are there to quench their thirst for knowledge, or maybe it is a hunger for something more, a bit deeper and harder to reach — human interaction.
Regardless of living circumstances wisdom may affect the quality of all social relationships positively and may offer a unique solution to loneliness, especially for the most at-risk groups cut off from social engagement — the over 50 demographic.
GetSetUp has harnessed the wisdom of our Guides. Perhaps there is a 50+ member of your community that could benefit from a lifelong learning opportunity in small groups or one-on-one? From basic technology skills to advance communication tools for small business or government services, GetSetUp has a class on it!
See what unique grain of wisdom may help you or someone you love fight loneliness.