Lessening the burden of loneliness is a win-win – older New Zealanders will feel a lift to their health and wellbeing and will be much more likely to make an active and valuable contribution to their communities

Opinion: Loneliness is a significant social problem that has always been with us but has come under the spotlight because of Coronavirus pandemic restrictions.

As a term it can be misunderstood. It differs from social isolation as it is not only the contact we have with others but the quality of the contact that counts. Researchers define loneliness as a perceived gap between the desired and actual state of social relationships. Loneliness is a normal part of living and affects us all, but for older adults, loneliness is more common. They may have lost a spouse, family, or friends. There may be fewer opportunities for regular social contact at their stage in life.

There is strong evidence that loneliness in older adults exacts a price in the form of greater morbidity and mortality, but society loses out as well. Older adults are major contributors through volunteering, mentoring and support for family. The social dividend they provide is one we can ill afford to lose, global pandemic or not.

Read the full article by Roy Lay-Yee here.

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