“I’m so lonesome I could cry,” or should it be “I’m so lonesome I could die?” A study done at the University of York discovered that people who are socially isolated – having few social interactions or connections – or feel lonely have a 29% higher risk of being diagnosed with heart disease and 32% higher risk of having a stroke when compared with their peers who report that they are well connected socially. This confirms an earlier study that linked being alone with a 50% greater risk of premature death.
People who are alone are found to be less likely to seek medical help when sick, are slower to recover after treatment, are also less likely to eat a healthy balanced diet, and are also less likely to exercise regularly.The study helps to build a base of knowledge in the medical community. More study is necessary to understand the links and to determine the best methods of identifying those at risk.
In the meantime, it may be a call to each of us to pay attention to those in our lives who are isolated and alone. While they may be easy to overlook, we all know someone who is lonely. And if that person is you, let this be a wake up call. You may not be able to immediately change your social isolation but you can determine to eat a healthy diet, get regular exercise, and talk to your doctor about your concerns.