There’s no question that having a support system and a sense of community is important as we get older. Face-to-face friendships matter. Study after study report that friendships are vital to longevity, and to our physical and mental health.
Much has been written about loneliness in recent months – and not just about the elderly who find themselves alone in later life.
I’ve been busy since my mother passed away three months ago. I have been re-orienting myself to a new status: A Parentless Adult.
A lonely woman. Aren’t these powerful, dare I say, almost ugly words? Conjuring up someone pathetic, perhaps? Someone you probably don’t want to know?
I listened to a program about loneliness and was struck by how much of it there is in society today. We’ve become isolated by the very technology that was designed to connect us.
Over the last few decades, governments across the world have taken an increasingly active role in promoting public health. They encourage flu shots, help to coordinate responses to epidemics, invest in basic science and more specialized medical research and create a safety net for low income families that need access to doctors.
We can be sailing along just fine – independent, self-contained, pursuing our own interests, plenty of friends, regular contact with family members, and then boom! – the holidays come upon us and we feel like our ship starts to sink.
The holidays aren’t always a happy time – for some they’re reminders that they are lone, whether they’re widowed, divorced, separated or simply away from family and friends. Add grief to that and it’s even more difficult. Loneliness is painful.
A new study saying that loneliness and social isolation are a major health hazard is no surprise to millions of people who are alone and lonely. Not having the fundamental human experience of connectedness is painful and even dangerous, especially if you are older.