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All the Lonely People (Where do they all belong)

Lonely

There’s no worse feeling than loneliness. Well, sure, we all get lonely occasionally. But chronic loneliness has become a troubling phenomenon.

I was reading the November/December issue of AARP The Magazine the other day, and found a great article on loneliness. Written by Brad Edmondson, it’s entitled,”All the Lonely People.” I’d like to share some of the information with you in this short weekend piece.

A survey conducted by the magazine found that 35% of the participants were chronically lonely based upon a standard measurement tool. Furthermore, the age group showing the highest prevalence of chronic loneliness was the 40s and 50s. Extending the numbers, that equates to some 44 million older adults who are enduring chronic loneliness.

And that’s 15% more than what was reported in a similar survey conducted 10 years ago.

Certainly, loneliness can take its emotional and mental toll; however, its less publicized physical fallout can be devastating. Here’s a list of risks…

  • Diabetes
  • Sleep disorders
  • Hypertension
  • Weakened immune system
  • Alzheimer’s disorder

Incidentally, much of this has to do with the secretion of the “stress hormone,” cortisol. Produced in the adrenal glands, it’s best known for ramping-up our physical response to stress.

So we’ve learned that chronic loneliness is a major potential problem for those in their 40s and 50s. And, of course, anyone – at any age – can fall victim. That said, what preventive action can we take?

The article goes on to suggest the following…

  • Nurture personal relationships
  • Emphasize face-to-face connections over electronic
  • Maintain contact with former colleagues after retirement
  • Volunteer
  • Join a community organization or social club
  • Learn as much as possible about the dynamics and manifestations of loneliness

Well, that’s a quick weekend piece on a relevant topic for anyone; especially those of us enduring depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder.

Would you add anything to either list? Thoughts or feelings? Comment away!

  • I have found my pets to be very helpful in combating loneliness.

    • Thanks for your comment, Lacey. Pets are wonderful company. You know, it’s interesting, my 86 year old widower Dad asked me the other day how I feel about dogs. I asked him if he’d like to have one, and he said, “Yes.” Go figure, we had a dog for a very brief period of time when we were kids – but that was it. Hah!

    • I actually replied a loooong time ago, but somehow it didn’t show. Hmmm. Anyway – thanks for your comment, Lacey. Pets are wonderful company. You know, it’s interesting, my 86 year old widower Dad asked me the other day how I feel about dogs. I asked him if he’d like to have one, and he said, “Yes.” Go figure, we had a dog for a very brief period of time when we were kids – but that was it. Hah!

  • In my Master’s program, one of my professors often referenced “Bowling Alone.” Sorry, I cannot remember the author off-hand. Anyways, it discusses loneliness as an epidemic due to a deterioration of communities. It has some interesting concepts.