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[News] Ward off loneliness by strengthening social connections

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Nearly a quarter of the world feels lonely. According to a recent Meta-Gallup survey of more than 140 countries, 24 per cent of people aged 15 and older reported feeling very or fairly lonely. And 27 per cent of respondents admitted to feeling a little lonely.

While everyone has felt lonely at some point, a sense of connection is essential to mental and physical health. Loneliness and social isolation affect quality of life and have been linked to increased risks of cardiovascular disease, stroke and cognitive decline including dementia. Several bodies of research reveal the effects of loneliness on mortality are similar to obesity, smoking, lack of exercise and high blood pressure.

Additionally, a 2019 study of polar explorers at a research station in the Antarctic found that social isolation shrank their brains, particularly in the hippocampus region, which is involved in memory, learning and emotional regulation.

Yet loneliness is not the same as being alone. It’s possible to be socially isolated and not lonely. That’s because loneliness is a state of mind, explains Dr. Jacqueline McMillan, a geriatrician and clinical assistant professor at the University of Calgary’s Cummings School of Medicine.

“Loneliness is a subjective perception of missing social contacts or desired companions,” she says.

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  • Date

    Mar 04, 2024

  • By

    Calgary Herald


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