October Kitchen B2B February 2018

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LETTER FEBRUARY 2018 Meet the Men Behind Your Meals

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Combating Loneliness in Seniors and Employees FOREVER ALONE?

L ast July, St. Monica Trust — a retirement home in the United Kingdom — opened its doors to a group of preschoolers. As part of a social experiment, residents would interact with the children for six weeks. At the start of the program, doctors determined that a third of the elder volunteers showed signs of depression, all but one were in poor health and risked falling and 9 out of 10 reported they found life to be dull. When asked if she was satisfied with her life, one replied, “I’m going to die. Quite soon, actually.” Keep in mind, these participants are no more unhealthy than other seniors in nursing homes and long-term care facilities around the world. Most of their conditions stem from something that afflicts countless people, young and old: loneliness. More than just not having a date on Valentine’s Day, loneliness is a crushing condition cutting our lives short. Research from Brigham Young University in Utah estimated that loneliness can shorten our lifespans in a way similar to smoking 15 cigarettes every day. Vice Admiral Vivek H. Murthy, former Surgeon General of the United States, wrote a piece for the Harvard Business Review about the epidemic of loneliness in his patients.

“During my years caring for patients, the most common pathology I saw was not heart disease or diabetes; it was loneliness … I found that loneliness was often in the background of clinical illness, contributing to disease and making it harder for patients to cope and heal.” Today, 40 percent of adults in the United States report feeling lonely, even among those who are surrounded by people in the workplace. In fact, many employees and over half of all CEOs report feeling lonely in their roles. As Murthy pointed out in his article, “Loneliness reduces task performance, limits creativity and impairs other aspects of executive function, such as reasoning and decision making.” How do we solve the problem of loneliness? To start, in the workplace, it’s important for management to take initiative in helping build healthy, productive relationships between employees. Evaluate the state of social connections in your workplace, encourage co- workers to reach out to help each other, create opportunities to learn about your colleagues’ personal lives, and make strengthening these relationships a strategic priority. One strategy I adopted in my kitchen after reading Murthy’s article is the “Inside Scoop.” At weekly meetings, each member of the team is

“More than just not having a date on Valentine’s Day, loneliness is a crushing condition cutting our lives short.”

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