How Face-to-Face Contact Can Make Us Healthier and Happier People

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Recently recommended by Generations United, “The Village Effect” points out the benefits and importance of friend networks and face-to-face interaction. Susan explains how people who invest in meaningful and personal relationships with a lot of real social contact are more robust and have better physiological defenses than those who are solitary or who engage with the world largely online. In today’s world where there are many technologies that allow us to live with limited face-to-face interaction, this can be difficult. She goes on to explain how it affects how well we learn to read, how quickly we fight off infection, and ultimately how long we live.

Pinker shares a story about a man named John who needed a kidney transplant. The disease was in John’s family and several of his family members had passed away from complications. John was a drummer and would perform with bands but didn’t make a steady income. He enjoyed drumming and didn’t mind picking up several other odd jobs to make ends meet. Because of the long waitlist and limited funds, John needed someone to offer a kidney to him if he wanted to survive. It’s not often that a person biologically related to you offers a kidney (3 in 1000), and John had 4 serious offers from friends. Susan says because of his strong relationships he was able to beat the disease that killed his father.

Most people are under the impression that diet, exercise, and a new class of drugs have created break throughs in the past decade (which have helped), but evidence shows social bonds are equally transformative. Social interaction has been linked to recovery, with findings of people more likely to recover from cancer, less likely to develop dementia, etc. Loneliness can affect the body negatively like stress, and can be compared to hunger and thirst pains.

With the internet and other technologies, people are becoming more and less connected. Friend circles and networks are becoming larger, but not necessarily closer. Susan mentions quality over quantity in friendships, claiming most Americans said they have fewer than 2 people they can depend on. To read more about Susan Pinker’s findings, check out her book.

AuthorLauren Erickson

Concord, CA - Robert N. Mayer, PhD, who was the founder and president of the Hulda B. & Maurice L. Rothschild Foundation, has been named posthumously as a Changemaker Award recipient by The Center for Health Design's Board of Directors. The award honors individuals or organizations that have demonstrated exceptional ability to change the way healthcare facilities are designed and built, and whose work has had broad impact on the advancement of healthcare design. 

Known as a tireless advocate for in eldercare reform, Dr. Mayer was best known as a philanthropist, thought leader and was a highly sought-after speaker on issues related to philanthropy, aging and healthcare design. He was a pioneer in eldercare reform both at the policy and local level in an effort to strengthen and broaden the person-centered movement.

His work with the Hulda B. and Maurice L. Rothschild Foundation included eight national regulatory task forces and a wide range of initiatives seeking to improve the quality of life and to enhance the experience of residents, patients and families in long-term care communities. He worked with architects on innovative design, promoted homelike settings in residential communities, and advocated with the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services. The foundation also convened regulatory task forces that brought together government officials, designers and nursing-home companies. As a catalyst and force behind the most significant and meaningful regulatory changes in nursing homes, he was crucial in the Life Safety Code changes to create more homelike environments in long-term care setting and person-centered food and dining standards developed for nursing homes.  Rob served as a presenter, panelist and moderator for conferences sponsored by the Pioneer Network, LeadingAge, Grantmakers in Health, Grantmakers in Aging and the American Society on Aging, among others.

Mayer spent 14 years in the private sector, where he directed the management resources function of a Fortune 100 multi-national corporation and later founded HomeCorps, a healthcare company to serve the elderly and handicapped. He was valued as a visionary in cutting-edge philanthropy, serving first as chair and then treasurer of The Nathan Cummings Foundation in its formative years. Mayer held positions from Chair of the Council on Foundations Family Foundations Conference to the organization’s Ethics & Practices Committee. He served as an Academic Director at the Center for Non-Profit Management of Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management in Chicago. He was a dedicated founder and Trustee at the American Civil War Museum, and a devoted Trustee at the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Latin School of Chicago, and others.

Above all else, Dr. Mayer was a family man. His wife of almost 40 years, Dr. Debra Weese-Mayer, was the love of his life, and his greatest pride and joy were their three children.

This award will be celebrated at Environments for Aging Expo & Conference on Monday, April 8, 2019.

Article was written and announced by The Center for Healthcare Design

AuthorLauren Erickson