Health care workers across the United States are growing increasingly concerned about loneliness and social isolation. More people are reporting that they’re lonely, and scientists now know the regions of the brain that respond to loneliness. Loneliness can have serious effects. Older adults face a greater risk of memory loss, heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke, according to NPR. The impact of loneliness is similar to that of smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
Geriatrician Carla Perissinotto, who’s featured in the podcast, authored a widely cited study about loneliness. It followed 1,600 people over six years to examine whether loneliness posed a risk to early death and loss of independence. Her work showed people who feel lonely are more likely to become ill, experience cognitive decline, and die early.
Discover more about what’s discussed in this episode by exploring the links below.
- Researchers Confront an Epidemic of Loneliness, Katie Hafner
- Loneliness in older persons: a predictor of functional decline and death, Carla Perissinotto
- So Lonely I Could Die, American Psychological Association
- The Friendship Bench program, Dixon Chibanda
- The Opioid Tsunami, Aspen Ideas to Go
“Aspen Ideas to Go” is a weekly show featuring fascinating speakers who have presented at the Aspen Ideas Festival and other public programs offered by the Aspen Institute. For a curated listening experience, subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts or find an archive of episodes here.