The majority of us will feel some degree of social isolation and loneliness throughout our lives. Sadly for many people, the depth and duration to which they experience social isolation and loneliness will significantly impact their physical and mental wellbeing.
A recent study conducted by the Angus Reid Institute found that 62% of Canadians reported they would like more time with their friends and family and a staggering 1 in 5 Canadians reported feeling very lonely.
While many of our elderly population suffer significantly from loss and loneliness, those younger than fifty are more likely to report loneliness. Social isolation and loneliness do not discriminate by age, gender identity, marital status, ethnicity, location or income, affecting anyone in any demographic of society.
Social beings are hard-wired for a sense of belonging, and social connection is a universal, basic human need. When that need is not met, it can result in a host of physical, mental and cognitive impairments.
Over the past four decades of research, a large body of evidence has emerged, connecting social isolation and loneliness to worsening cardiovascular and mental health outcomes. For example, meta-analytic data indicates that experiencing loneliness increases the risk for earlier death by 26%
As reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- The risk of premature death posed by social isolation rivals those of smoking, obesity and physical inactivity.
- Social isolation is associated with about a 50% increased risk of dementia.
- Social isolation and loneliness are associated with a 29% increased risk of heart disease and a 32% increased risk of stroke.
- Loneliness is associated with higher rates of depression, anxiety and suicide.
If you are suffering from social isolation or loneliness, you are not alone. Contact us! If you are concerned about the impacts of social isolation and loneliness on our community, join us.
Beyond the Conversation is a non-profit organization formed to alleviate social isolation and loneliness by building community and friendship. We are a team of committed volunteers offering action-based solutions such as open talk cafes led by hosts trained in communication and leadership skills. We host events and forums designed to de-stigmatize loneliness, raise awareness and provide a thriving community of engagement and connection for participants and volunteers.
A Portrait of Social Isolation and Loneliness in Canada Today. June 17, 2019 http://angusreid.org/social-isolation- loneliness-canada/
2020 US Report: To further explore the impact of loneliness, in our culture and in our workplaces. https:// www.cigna.com/static/www-cigna-com/docs/about-us/newsroom/studies-and-reports/combatting-loneliness/ cigna-2020-loneliness-factsheet.pdf
Is Mitigating social Isolation a Planning Priority for British Columbia (Canada) Municipalities? http://www.bccdc.ca/ Our-Services-Site/Documents/Social_Isolation_Report_17Sept2019.pdf
An overview of systematic reviews on the public health consequences of social isolation and loneliness. November 2017 https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0033350617302731?via%3Dihub
Loneliness and Social Isolation Linked to Serious Health Conditions, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, https://www.cdc.gov/aging/publications/features/lonely-older-adults.html
Social Isolation and Health, Health Policy Brief, by Julianne Holt-Lunstad June 22, 2020 https:// www.healthaffairs.org/do/10.1377/hpb20200622.253235/full/