Should loneliness among older adults be considered a public health issue?

Poll choices
Posted 3 years.

11 Comments

  • Jeanne - 3 years ago

    Loneliness on all levels is a sign of the times. People are basically self-centered. Age related loneliness is swept under the carpet because many families do not want the responsibility of caring for their aged family members. Visit retirement and nursing homes; you will find that the majority of the residents rarely, if ever, have visitors. Many who are ambulatory are still lonely because of family members not wanting a relationship with them now that they are older. Children abandon older parents quite frequently over petty disagreements. They forget that they too, one day, will be old. Love and forgiveness nurtures , selfishness and hate tears down.

  • Bob J - 3 years ago

    My concern is that calling it a public health concern will result In lots of spending on administrative and CEO pay with little help for the lonely. Many resources are available from churches and other local organizations.

  • Paul McKelvey - 3 years ago

    We have extended life. We have not yet extended ability. Loneliness because contemporaries we loved have passed on is just one facet of the issue of extending life. We should be working on that aspect intensely.

  • Lorna - 3 years ago

    Every comment so far, in my view, states something of value. I am a loner, an introvert, that can be as social as can be, but prefer my own time and space, more. I have lived alone for much of my life, and am used to it, therefore I'm accustomed to loneliness, from time to time. I can't say used to it, because I'm not sure anyone gets used to it. I think it must be very hard to be married, and have children, because one would grow so used to having someone around, at all times, for so much of ones life. That was certainly the case with my mother. I'm long divorced with no children, but have my wonderful pets. They add so much to my life , and I adore them. I do agree with the person who mentioned, it's not a bad thing to learn to be alone, because we may well end up that way. That's something I've accepted, because I have no children, not that having children means you'll never be alone, nor does it mean that it has to be children, loneliness of course, can occur whenever someone you have dedicated your time and life to, leaves your life. I hope to live in a "communal" setting as I grow older still... in a group, senior cottage setting, with other seniors all around me. I think, as we age we need people close by, (not necessarily living with), for safety , friendship, security, sharing, happiness, and a way not to be lonely.

  • gunter hiller - 3 years ago

    Im a Holocaust survivor, in my 88th year.
    I felt excruciatingly lonely during the war, when I was hiding from the Nazis, and later, when I learned
    that my parents had been murdered in polish concentration camps in 1943.

    In 1946 ,at age 17, I came to America, trying to start a new life. But I felt lost in a country that had
    won the war and then, with the help from the GI Bill, turned to acquire the material comforts: the production of war materials was replaced by refrigerators, cars and homes. Life in suburbia became the American dream.

    I did not reject the dream ,because I thought it was reasonable for people to seek comfort and prosperity. But although I accepted the dream intellectually, I couldn't embrace it emotionally. I was lost, and shaken by the racism that had also survived the war. I simply could not find inner peace or material stability.
    I lived frugally and finally decided to search for a less materialistic culture. This took me to Nepal and
    Thailand, where I found refuge in a Buddhist monastery. It gave me back my life.

    I am now in a good place within. I still struggle with depression and loneliness, but it is no longer overwhelming. It's a challenge through which I become stronger.. The challenge is to get rid of my my negativity, my baggage.

    I'm happy that, more and more, people are on this path.
    I believe that, being devoted to being in the here-and-now creates the serenity we seek.
    And II am confident that when we see things as they are, a world of peace and compassion is believable.
    We are not alone.

  • Sophia - 3 years ago

    I am in tears as I write this.

    Why you might ask?

    Please tell me...how is it possible that only three other people in this world were moved enough, to publicly comment on this achingly poignant story about the pain and suffering of loneliness? Perhaps it is just a sad reflection of how far we have come...how far we have removed ourselves and our hearts from one another.

    We evolved over hundreds of thousands of years to become at some point, highly social creatures ... gregarious and with instinctual drives to interact as a cohesive group. And it is this very instinct that conferred on the human species, the greatest expression of survival advantage on the planet.

    But what seems to have happened, as we have become more technologically "civilized", is that we have removed ourselves from the natural order of family, extended family, village, and cohesive group.

    "WE" as an actual expression of who we are ... has been mistakenly dropped for the prized opinion that there is only "ME" and "MINE", and indeed, this is proving to be a deadly mistake.

    Loneliness kills our spirit and wounds our body/minds. And believing in only me and mine, is driving us headlong into intractable wars against one another and the environment. In a word, we are at war with the world and every living creature on the planet.

    And I still find myself wondering, why, that out of the thousands of people who have viewed this piece, who have seen the suffering of the elderly man and woman in the video, these two beautiful human beings...why have only four people been touched deeply enough to share their hearts and minds regarding the story?

    Do You wonder too? Do You care? Will you reach out to someone near you...someone who too, may be suffering the deep pain of loneliness???

    Please.....do.

  • Barbara - 3 years ago

    Having been an enthusiastic high school teacher years ago, and having little reticence about still acting the part, I often dare give one bit of advice to young people (and even not so young people) - when the occasion arises. And that is - to survive in this world, we, all of us, have to LEARN how to be alone, cultivating FROM AN EARLY AGE an interest in books, music, art, hobbies, individual sport, nature, even travel - pastimes that one can enjoy alone, and that can mitigate the oppression of loneliness if the need arises. That means acquainting oneself with one's self when others are not available, rather than simply watching the world go by.

    That's not to say we shouldn't seek social exchange, just that having another person or persons in our lives at all times is just not possible for a lifetime. Preparedness is everything.

    Loneliness is not the same as solitude, of course. If you've practiced solitude (being alone) every once in a while for a lifetime, the inevitability of solitude and its possible loneliness at some point can be overcome more readily with forbearance. Like grief, loneliness can be tolerated for periods of time...one CAN get used to it if he still finds interest in the world.

    The exception, I think, may be the elderly population who are alone, grieving the loss of a partner AND also seriously ill... Long periods of Inactivity and inability to move about independently would make near impossible pursuing the above.

  • MJ - 3 years ago

    Loneliness is everywhere, at every age. You have to work at being in relationship. Our western culture prizes independence and individual success. Living in community requires loving others, not judging them. Requires finding and prizing each persons qualities and not believing you are somehow better. We age independently, doing what we must to get by, not investing in relationships. I have, in my job as a palliative care nurse, seen over & over the effects of destroyed relationships within family systems & without. People need each other. They need to learn to forgive, love and celebrate each other. I flinch when I hear elderly saying they will stay in their homes until the end... They become isolated, while prizing independence, they become at risk for loneliness. Even as they age, they have responsibility to seek, nurture, and enjoy relationships. Family is apart of this, but not entirely. I know there will be those not accepting of these thoughts, but government cannot solve loneliness.

  • Linda Fodrini-Johnson - 3 years ago

    Loneliness does effect well being but solitude can also enhance health. The issue for all of us is a balance that meets our values as well as needs. I would not force socialization on someone who is happy and content in their self-made world if they are mentally competent, able to care for themselves and have a sense of life satisfaction without symptoms of depression.

    Socialization is even more important to life satisfaction and extending life - those who don't socialize increase their mortality by over 40%. In our society transportation can be a key and cities that make staying connected in a variety of ways easy for cities will not have as much isolation and loneliness. Even a frail 90 year old can volunteer someplace - feeling good about our contributions is what gives life purpose for many.

  • mariposa - 3 years ago

    Loneliness effects many in our world, so much disconnect of families. Our world has changed so drastically that the last two generations have difficulties processing n acvepting these facts. Many have no time for themselves much less one another. Chaos, uncrrtainty, homelessness are the symtoms of a disconnected family unit. Only through Christ's love can we see light & hope because it gives us new eyrs & ears for our fellow man.

  • marcia - 3 years ago

    What is being done to eradicate loneliness? Why are not extended families more involved as it takes a village to raise a child the same arguement can be said for the elderly?

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