Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Loneliness is devastating to your physical and mental health

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

New research indicates that loneliness and isolation are devastating to your physical and mental health.

An article by Jack Rear that was published in the Telegraph on November 5, 2019 reports on a year-long study at Copenhagen University examining the health outcomes for 13,443 people who had a heart attack. Rear reports that:

The study found that women who described themselves as lonely were three times more likely to die within a year of the attack than those with an active social life; and men in the same position were twice as likely to die within a year.

In addition, patients who were lonely were also three times more likely to be anxious, depressed and reported a lower quality of life.
According to Rear, the Copenhagen study is one in a series of studies showing how loneliness and isolation are a deadly combination for your health:
The Copenhagen study is the latest in a long line of scientific work that substantiates the negative effect loneliness has on human health. For example, one study found that the health effects of loneliness are comparable to smoking or obesity, increasing the risk of death by 26pc. There might be multiple reasons for this, but the cause is thought to be increased inflammation of the body associated with stress, which can damage immune function.

Other studies have linked loneliness with an increased risk of developing coronary heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and an increased onset of physical disability.
Loneliness and depression cause some people to request euthanasia, when they are experiencing physical and/or psychological distress.

A British study found that 22% of seniors, over the age of 65 will talk to only three or fewer people per week. A September 7, 2019 article in studyfinds.org reported:

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.
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 has also developed a training program for visiting people who are lonely and isolated.

CCC also exists to provide advice and direction concerning health issues related to end-of-life and euthanasia prevention as well as train volunteers to visit lonely and isolated people.

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