Given the latest news about the pending repeal of the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, now more than ever it is important to understand what social capital is, how to develop it and how to access it.
What is Social Capital: Your social networks have value and importance. By being an active participant in your community, condition specific organization, family, work and other networks, you have an opportunity to give to those in need and in turn, have community you can reach out to when you need help.
Why Invest: By “paying it forward”-volunteering to help others- you help yourself in multiple ways including improvement in self-confidences, self-worth and general wellbeing. People who volunteer and actively engage in social networking live longer and experience higher levels of satisfaction than those who don’t.
Given proposed governmental cuts in funding, while you may qualify for any number of services such as rides, homemaker, respite care etc., the organization(s) that run these programs may not have the money to offer them. Having a network of people you can rely on can make the difference in not only your ability to live independently but also keeping a loved one at home.
Keep in mind that even if you live in a community where there is a high degree of social capital, unless you are an active participant and have good connections within your community, you will be less likely to reap the emotional and practical benefits
How to Invest/Increase Your Capital: There are many ways you can go about doing this:
• Participate in your condition specific organization, such as a group for people with arthritis, Parkinson’s Disease, caregiver support etc. You can do this on-line or in person. Within this format there are many ways to help and be involved from being a buddy, to making fundraising and support calls, providing rides, helping someone to navigate the health care system etc.
• Join a local church or civic group (e.g. Rotary, Lions Club)
• Support local merchants
• Volunteer for organizations and groups in your community
• Plan a vacation with friends or family
• Join/start a book club, hiking group, craft
• For more ideas check out 52 Ways to Increase Social Capital