Chronic loneliness is a growing problem that can be as harmful for seniors as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
It not only impacts a person's mental well-being but their physical health as well. Stress hormones go up, it can impair cognitive performance, compromise the immune system and increase the risk for vascular problems, inflammation, and heart disease. But a little connection can change all that.
That means if you know someone who is lonely, talk to them. More importantly: listen to them.
And if you are a senior, plan at least two days, if only for a few hours, out of the house, find a senior center, enroll in community college classes. Most offer courses free for seniors, volunteer, walk places if you can and say hello to everyone you pass.
Make it a point to call someone each day.
Just a little time with some friends can change a life.
Communities around the world are taking steps to combat loneliness.
Towns in England have installed chat benches.
If you need to talk, just stop and take a break and start a conversation.
And in Africa, they have friendship benches, where grandmothers are being trained by health professionals to sit and talk to help anyone who needs it.
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