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There once was a little girl who had a Mom, Dad, Stepdad, two sisters, and a multitude of cousins who loved her. Now, all grown up, she has her sister, a husband, two daughters, two sons-in-law, five grandchildren, a few cousins, plus a few special friends. Life happens.

The definition of family over the years has seemed to change, but it usually includes a group of individuals related to each other, not necessarily related by blood, who have bonded together.

Healthy bonds and relationships give people a sense of belonging and help keep a balance in life. Family is important because it can benefit a person's physical, emotional, and mental well-being. Those who value family and friends and have them develop important bonds and connections; it helps keep one feeling young. Many also experience better health throughout their lives.

I ran a home daycare for 10 years. I loved and cared for the children in my charge as much as my own. I loved working at the nursing home and made many friends and acquaintances, who I would consider my family today. Many seniors, whether in the community or in a nursing home, can feel isolated from family and friends. This loneliness can increase a person's chances of declining health, such as dementia, stroke, heart disease, and premature mortality.

Although, like my Mother, moving into the nursing home improved her healthcare and safety, she was separated from her family, and she still craved the rapport and feeling of belonging with part of the outside community. She missed: walking, to get her mail; her pets; gardening; stopping by a neighbour's for tea and the freedom of being independent.

It wasn't easy for Mother to start new friendships, as all she knew was work, work, work, and when we did visit, she was so angry at first. Then Covid-19 pandemic created shutdowns, stay-at-home orders and event hiatus, creating higher levels of loneliness from further isolation for most people. While the pandemic has highlighted the crisis of loneliness across all generations, seniors were especially limited in terms of social interaction.

This allowed us all to rethink seniors' needs and make the appropriate changes in healthcare settings.

There is hope from clinical interventions, through therapy, counselling and activities to keep your senior engaged, whether they are in a nursing home or in their own home. It is important to remain: physically active, as much as possible; play mentally challenging games; play an instrument: do arts and crafts; perhaps start a new hobby; do puzzles; reading; word searches; and reach out to others to stay connected, by making regular calls and video chats. Please call a family member, your Pastor, a friend from Church, or your doctor to reach out for help when feeling worried, bored, stressed or frustrated and stay connected.

Remember, when you do feel sad or lonely or feel alone, you can connect with God. Living intentionally helps to overcome chronic loneliness.

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