The Loneliness Factor

I was at a luncheon that was serving as a listening post for seniors to describe their sense of loneliness and isolation. I knew that the population invited to this luncheon was one that would probably have a higher sense of isolation, but, what I heard was much more intense than I expected.

A man shared with the group that his family had rejected him, many of his friends had died and he said that he sometimes goes weeks without hearing a human voice. I was filled with sadness at the thought that a human being who lives in a city, surrounded by people, could feel so lonely.

Public policy in the United States is trending toward encouraging seniors to age in place. Yes, one is more comfortable in one’s own home, however, this trend is leading to great increases in social isolation.

Social isolation is not good for one’s health. Those who live alone have a tendency toward more at risk behaviors, lead a more sedentary life, and tend to suffer from depression.

This article from the New York Times, Loneliness Can Be Deadly for Elders; Friends Are the Antidote, gives a great overview of the problem but also highlight ways of addressing the concern.

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