03 – Reach out and touch someone, Michael McFarland

Reach Out and Touch Somebody
By Michael McFarland

 A heart that cared, that went unshared
Until it died, within his silence
And solitaire’s the only game in town
© Sony/ATV Tunes LLC, Don Kirshner Music,
Emi Sosaha Music Inc., Emi Jemaxal Music Inc.,
Kirshner Songs Inc

Those lyrics are from a song written by Neil Sedaka. He and many other artists recorded it fifty years ago. During and certainly after COVID, those lyrics have meaning for those who have been socially isolated and lonely, especially as we enter the holiday season.

Loneliness and social isolation in older adults are serious public health risks affecting a significant number of people in Canada and putting them at risk for dementia and other serious medical conditions.

Older adults are at increased risk for loneliness and social isolation because they are more likely to face factors such as living alone, the loss of family or friends, chronic illness, and hearing loss. A new international study published by the National Academies of Science and Medicine points out that more than one-third of adults aged 55 and older feel lonely. Nearly one-fourth of adults aged 65 and older are socially isolated.

Social isolation is a lack of social connections. Loneliness is feeling alone, regardless of the amount of social contact. Although it’s hard to measure social isolation and loneliness precisely, there is strong evidence that many adults aged 50 and older are socially isolated or lonely in ways that put their health at risk. Recent studies found that:

  • Social isolation significantly increases a person’s risk of premature death from all causes, a risk that may rival those of smoking, obesity, and physical inactivity.
  • Social isolation was associated with a 50% percent risk of dementia.
  • Loneliness was associated with higher rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide.
  • Loneliness among heart failure patients was associated with a nearly four times increased risk of death, 68% increased risk of hospitalization, and 57% increased risk of emergency department visits.

Now some people may like being alone. It is also important to note that social isolation and loneliness are two distinct aspects of social relationships and are not significantly linked. Both can put health at risk, however.

If you know of someone alone, pick up the phone and reach out and touch someone during the holiday season.

©While life goes on around him everywhere
He’s playing solitaire

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