LONELINESS IS ON THE INCREASE
The feelings of loneliness and social isolation are personal yet we have all experienced them at some stage in our lives.
Although it’s hard to measure social isolation and loneliness precisely, there is strong evidence that many adults aged 50 and older are socially isolated or lonely in ways that put their health at risk.
Some reports even highlight loneliness among vulnerable older adults, including immigrants; lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) populations; minorities; and victims of elder abuse. It also points out that the literature base for these populations is sparse and more research is needed to determine risks, impacts, and appropriate actions needed.
People are social by nature, and high-quality social relationships can help people live longer healthier lives. Health care systems are an important, yet underused, partner in identifying loneliness and preventing medical conditions associated with loneliness.
Nearly all adults aged 50 or older interact with the health care system in some way. For those without social connections, a doctor’s appointment or visit from a home health nurse may be one of the few face-to-face encounters they have. This represents a unique opportunity for clinicians to identify people at risk for loneliness or social isolation.
The Social Buddy Team encourages health care professionals to get in contact with us when they recognise someone in need of social connection.