Live Well and Be Happy

How social isolation is killing us

by Autumnlife's Pick, 28 Feb 2017

New researches in America found that social separation or lack of social connection increases the risk of heart disease by 29 per cent and stroke by 32 per cent. Socially isolated individuals especially those in middle age, have a 30 per cent higher risk of dying in the next seven years. Social isolation is a growing epidemic in the world. Declaring loneliness is seen as a stigma of admitting our failure in life. However, research also suggests that lonely people are often more sensitive and negative to social cues which worsen their problem. Hence, neighbourhoods and communities of sorts help to reduce social isolation and ensuring easy access to transport services for example, can help people stay socially connected. Dr Paul Tang of the Palo Alto Medical Foundation started an online platform, linkAges, as a cross-generational service exchange. Members post online something they want help with: a Scrabble partner or a ride to the doctor’s, and others can then volunteer their time and skill to fill these needs. Dr Tang said, “You don’t need a playmate every day. But, knowing you’re valued and a contributing member of society is incredibly reaffirming.”  

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The writer,Dhruv Khullar, is a resident physician at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. 

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