Emotional Isolation Essays

Emotional Isolation Essays-53
As one senior put it, “Your world dies before you do.”Ideally, experts say, neighborhoods and communities would keep an eye out for such older people and take steps to reduce social isolation.

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I see this most acutely during the holidays when I care for hospitalized patients, some connected to I. poles in barren rooms devoid of family or friends — their aloneness amplified by cheerful Christmas movies playing on wall-mounted televisions.

And hospitalized or not, many people report feeling lonelier, more depressed and less satisfied with life during the holiday season.

All told, loneliness is as important a risk factor for early death as obesity and smoking. Admitting we’re lonely can feel as if we’re admitting we’ve failed in life’s most fundamental domains: belonging, love, attachment.

It attacks our basic instincts to save face, and makes it hard to ask for help.

She helps him plant a row of flowers and “banks” two hours in the process. “I think you have to do the latter to do the former.”A great paradox of our hyper-connected digital age is that we seem to be drifting apart.

A few months later, when she wants to cook a Malaysian meal for her boyfriend, a retired chef comes by to give her cooking lessons.“You don’t need a playmate every day,” Dr. “But knowing you’re valued and a contributing member of society is incredibly reaffirming.”The program now has hundreds of members in California and plans to expand to other areas of the country.“We in the medical community have to ask ourselves: Are we controlling blood pressure or improving health and well-being? Increasingly, however, research confirms our deepest intuition: Human connection lies at the heart of human well-being. Loneliness can accelerate cognitive decline in older adults, and isolated individuals are twice as likely to die prematurely as those with more robust social interactions.These effects start early: Socially isolated children have significantly poorer health 20 years later, even after controlling for other factors. Loneliness is an especially tricky problem because accepting and declaring our loneliness carries profound stigma.New research suggests that loneliness is not necessarily the result of poor social skills or lack of social support, but can be caused in part by unusual sensitivity to social cues.Lonely people are more likely to perceive ambiguous social cues negatively, and enter a self-preservation mind-set — worsening the problem.One recent study found that isolation increases the risk of heart disease by 29 percent and stroke by 32 percent.Another analysis that pooled data from 70 studies and 3.4 million people found that socially isolated individuals had a 30 percent higher risk of dying in the next seven years, and that this effect was largest in middle age.It’s up to all of us — doctors, patients, neighborhoods and communities — to maintain bonds where they’re fading, and create ones where they haven’t existed. P., is a resident physician at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. The Upshot provides news, analysis and graphics about politics, policy and everyday life. An Upshot article on Thursday about the health risks of social isolation misstated the purpose of a grant by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to a program, link Ages, dedicated to fighting the problem. A wave of new research suggests social separation is bad for us.Individuals with less social connection have disrupted sleep patterns, altered immune systems, more inflammation and higher levels of stress hormones.


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