Covid-19 kills but social isolation and loneliness carry it’s own risks. A study by Lee, Depp, Palmer and Glorioso (2019), which looked at adverse health effects of loneliness across the adult life span discovered that 76% had moderate-high levels of loneliness, which correlated with worse mental and physical functioning.
There was no sex difference in loneliness and greatest severity was experienced in late 20’s, mid 50’s and late 80’s. Hugh Mackay in his book ‘The Art of Belonging’, notes that security is a major issue for those living alone and can manifest as a pronounced need to keep themselves and homes safe, and increased fears about health and financial security. At this time when both our health and financial wellbeing are severely threatened, such fears are exacerbated.
So here is our challenge. How do we provide an antidote to loneliness and the risks it carries while keeping ourselves physically safe? There is no debate that physical distancing is essential, but must that mean social isolation? Now is a time when we must become more creative, more proactive and less frightened of relationship. As we become appropriately avoidant of germs, we must become less sensitive to rejection and braver in approaching each other (at a safe distance) to offer connection that protects. It’s a good time to discover your neighbours.
Lee, E., Depp, C., Palmer, B., and Glorioso, D. High prevalence and adverse health effects of loneliness in community-dwelling adults across the lifespan: role of wisdom as a protective factor Volume 31, Issue 10 (Issue Theme: Dementia and the Society) October 2019 , pp. 1447-1462