Article by Fabafterfifty
With a new initiative starting today to combat loneliness in the elderly, is it a sign of modern life that community spirit has diminished to such a degree that there are so many people in our society who are literally dying from loneliness, and whose quality of life in their latter years is so adversely affected due to lack of human interaction.
I can remember many happy times spent with my grandmother, where everyone in the street where she lived knew each other and looked out for one another- regardless of age or personal circumstances. Neighbours were always popping in to say hello and the kettle was always at the ready and a plate of rich tea fingers on standby.
Social Isolation a higher risk than lifelong smoking
Researchers rate loneliness and social isolation as a higher risk than lifelong smoking (Holt-Lunstad J, Smith TB, Layton JB (2010) ‘Social Relationships and Mortality Risk: A Meta-analytic Review’, PLoS Med 7(7): e1000316). It is closely associated with depression and it has been shown that loneliness makes it harder to regulate behaviour, rendering people more likely to drink excessively, have unhealthier diets or take less exercise.
In some cases a health condition may trigger greater isolation and loneliness. Decreasing mobility and chronic pain can also inhibit people in keeping up with their family and friends. Loneliness increases with greater limitation in people’s ability to undertake activities of daily living. Indeed physical limitation is the largest single predictor of loneliness.
Five organisations are joining forces to fight isolation and loneliness in older people, which research suggests is as great a threat to health as smoking and as much of a threat as obesity.
Campaign to End Loneliness
The Campaign to End Loneliness was launched on February 1st by Independent Age, Age UK, Oxfordshire, Counsel and Care, and WRVS and is funded by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. While supporting the campaign wholeheartedly, I can’t help but feel saddened by the fact that it takes such an initiative to combat the loneliness created by our modern society’s way of life.
For more information contact http://counselandcare.org.uk