Sunday, September 8, 2019

Loneliness is an epidemic that can be detrimental to your health

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Loneliness and depression causes some people to request euthanasia, when they are experiencing physical and/or psychological distress.


A recent British study found that 22% of seniors, over the age of 65 will talk to only three or fewer people per week. According to a September 7, 2019 article in studyfinds.org:
According to the survey of 1,896 seniors over 65 in the United Kingdom, more than one in five (22%) will have a conversation with no more than just three people over the span of an entire week! That translates to nearly 2.6 million elderly folks who don’t enjoy regular human contact on a daily basis. Perhaps most alarming though is researchers say an alarming 225,000 individuals will go a week without talking to anyone face-to-face.
The study indicates that a kind greeting or sharing time with others makes a difference in their lives:
About 40% of seniors say they’d feel more confident to head out each day if they knew their neighbors. Just the thought of someone stopping to chat with them brightens their outlook: 54% of respondents agree that even a short conversation with a neighbor or acquaintance would greatly improve their day overall. And a quarter of older adults say it makes them feel good when someone smiles or acknowledges them while waiting in line at places like the bank or grocery store. One in five would be thrilled if someone stopped to ask them how their day had gone.
Studyfinds.org published a commentary on August 6, 2017 on two meta-analysis studies by Dr. Julianne Holt-Lunstad, a professor of psychology at Brigham Young University that examined health issues related to loneliness and social isolation. Studyfinds.org stated about the first study:
In an analysis of 148 studies that included more than 300,000 people total, her research team found that “a greater social connection” cuts a person’s risk of early death by 50 percent. 
“Being connected to others socially is widely considered a fundamental human need — crucial to both well-being and survival. Extreme examples show infants in custodial care who lack human contact fail to thrive and often die,... “Yet an increasing portion of the U.S. population now experiences isolation regularly.”
The comment by Studyfinds.org about the second meta-analysis study states:
In her second analysis, she looked at the role that loneliness, social isolation, and living alone played in a person’s lifespan. Using 70 studies that included more than 3.4 million participants (mostly from North America, but some studies did look at people in Europe, Asia, and Australia), the research team concluded that all three were as much of — and in some cases more — a threat to a person’s health as obesity and other risk factors. 
All three conditions were found to be equally hazardous and significantly raised the risk of premature death. 
“There is robust evidence that social isolation and loneliness significantly increase risk for premature mortality, and the magnitude of the risk exceeds that of many leading health indicators,”

Now that euthanasia is legal in Canada, people who care about others need to recognize the importance of being with people who are lonely and socially isolated.

The Compassionate Community Care (CCC) program exists to provide advice and direction concerning health issues related to end-of-life and euthanasia prevention and to train volunteers to visit those who are isolated and lonely. 

Contact CCC at: 1-855-675-8749.

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