As Carol King so aptly wrote in 1971 “when you are down and troubled and need a helping hand…( sing along here as I am sure you know the lyrics)…you’ve got a friend, …ain’t it good to know you’ve got a friend”? Everybody needs a friend, regardless of age and seniors in particular often find themselves lonely and isolated. Being alone is different than being lonely. Loneliness is defined as “sadness because one has no friends or company” We may all have felt lonely from time to time but for many, this becomes their constant state.
Statistics Canada reported 1.4 million elderly Canadians report feeling lonely. Psychologist Ami Rokach states that loneliness has become a public health crisis and related health effects are at epidemic levels. Dr. Rokach states that “loneliness itself doesn’t directly cause health problems …[but] that depression, desperation, feeling unappreciated and unwanted can cause seniors to neglect their health”.
Reports indicate that approximately one in five people experience loneliness and this reference is not limited to just seniors. The United Kingdom recently appointed a Minister of Loneliness to address social isolation and several Canadian think that this might be needed here as well. The UK task is to develop policies to what has been described as “the sad reality of modern life”. There is a difference between an older person who outlives family and friends and finds themselves both alone and lonely as compared to young people who are technologically wired and interact with an avatar rather than with peers face to face. Both can be lonely. However there are some actions that we can take to address this disconnect. Are you thinking about grabbing something for lunch today and eating at your desk? Maybe invite someone to join you……
Thought for the day: We may not need a Best Friend Forever but we all do need a Friend.
 Oxford Dictionary