Loneliness the Silent Serial Killer

Loneliness is killing the elderlyLoneliness is the silent serial killer that strikes when people are left without the pleasure of relationships. A person’s ability to build and sustain healthy relationships is the most important factor in how people get along in every area of life. Once relationships have been established they have to be strengthened in order to be effective.

It should come as no surprise that people with the least amount of friends are often diagnosed with depression. Being in a constant state of loneliness is detrimental to a person’s mental well-being. This detriment eventually results in a physical decline as well, when left unchecked.

People cannot exist in life without solid relationships. Contrary to what some may believe, no one is an island to themselves. Everyone needs relationships; they are important to humanity. Tom Hanks’ character in the movie Cast Away was so desperate and in need of relationship that he formed one with a ball and even named it Wilson.

Relationships are the driving force of one’s life. People are the sum total of their five closest friends. There’s a saying, “birds of a feather flock together.” In other words, if someone wants to know what another is like or who they really are they can look at the person’s friends; friends are a reflection of each other.

A good relationship is reflected by a strong and rewarding connection. People with the most meaningful relationships tend to also be the happiest. Contrariwise, loneliness breaks the heart of many and is one of the biggest causes of death in the elderly.

As a culture Americans obsess over many things such as smoking, obesity and healthcare but even with the best healthcare there is no prescription that can be written for loneliness. In order to preserve the elderly, families and communities may need to stage interventions for them. As people grow in age they tend to lose portions of their independence and become overly concerned with being a burden on others. This can cause them to withdraw from the few connections which they have and become isolated individuals.

Loneliness is associated with a significantly greater risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease. It suppresses the function of one’s immune system and contributes to a faster onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Loneliness has also been known to interrupt the regulation of cellular process so that it predisposes people to premature aging and can take years off one’s life-span.

Scientists have concluded that chronic loneliness is as much of a risk to long-term physical health as smoking cigarettes. The difference is cigarettes come with clear warning from the Surgeon General while loneliness randomly attacks. Loneliness is viewed by many as an unfortunate circumstance as opposed to the silent killer that it really is.

Loneliness fails to trigger the same urgency as smoking, obesity or drug abuse. The person who suffers from it often accepts it as a new normal and does not see it as a disease. They often become so bitter and negative because of the isolation that they struggle to accept opportunities for social connection when they arise.

Having meaningful and fulfilling relationships is essential for health and happiness. In addition to the intense torment loneliness creates, it has a big impact on one’s mental and physical health; it increases the risk of clinical depression and suicide.

A person’s ability to build and sustain healthy relationships is the most important factor in how people get along in every aspect of life. Loneliness is the silent serial killer that attacks when people are thrust into isolation, especially the elderly.

By: Cherese Jackson (Virginia)

Sources:

Huffington Post
BBC
Slate News

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