Friday, December 27, 2019

Loneliness is an epidemic among seniors that requires a caring response.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Loneliness is an important topic because all of us are affected by loneliness while seniors and people with disabilities have greater issues with loneliness because they often have issues with their health mobility.

I am concerned about cultural loneliness because lonely and depressed people are more likely to die by suicide, assisted suicide or euthanasia.
The Grand Island Independent published an editorial: Loneliness an epidemic among seniors that provides some practical advice. The editorial states:
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 12.5 million older adults live in one-person households, representing 28 percent of people age 65 or older. The National Poll on Healthy Aging reported earlier this year that 1 in 3 senior citizens suffer from loneliness. 
“Research shows that chronic loneliness can impact older adults’ memory, physical well-being, mental health and life expectancy,” write the authors of the report sponsored by AARP. “In fact, some research suggests that chronic loneliness may shorten life expectancy even more than being overweight or sedentary, and just as much as smoking.” 
More than a third of seniors in the poll said they felt a lack of companionship at least some of the time. Almost 30 percent said they socialized with friends, family or neighbors once a week or less.
The editorial offers some practical advice:
Those of us who live near elderly people also can help out with tasks such as clearing snow from sidewalks and carrying groceries in from the car. Then, at the same time, we can just stop in to say hi and spend some time talking. 
It’s important that we all look for ways to make connections with the people who have been so important to our communities in the past, but now may be struggling with the effects of aging and becoming more isolated. There is great value in their life experiences and we all can continue to contribute well into our 80s and 90s...
A very practical response is to visit people who are socially isolated due to their health or age related conditions.

The Compassionate Community Care (CCC) program has 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. Contact CCC at: 1-855-675-8749.

More articles on loneliness and depression

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