In Canada, social isolation – especially for the elderly – is a real issue and one that needs serious attention. Past research has indicated that this form of loneliness can be more dangerous to a person than obesity; lead to poor sleeping habits and compromise an individual’s immune system.
This week, British Prime Minister Theresa May put forth an effort to help those in the U.K. impacted by loneliness by appointing a Minister of Loneliness.
“For far too many people, loneliness is the sad reality of modern life,” said May in a statement. “I want to confront this challenge for our society and for all of us to take action to address the loneliness endured by the elderly, by [caregivers], by those who have lost loved ones – people who have no one to talk to or share their thoughts and experiences with.”
Taking the reigns as Minister of Loneliness is politician Tracey Crouch (pictured below). According to the Telegraph, Crouch will be charged with developing a “national strategy to combat loneliness.”
Crouch’s appointment came on the heels of a report issued by the Jo Cox Loneliness Commission, an organization founded and run in the memory of murdered Labour MP, Joe Cox. Findings in this report indicated that more than nine million people in the U.K. experience significant bouts of loneliness.
“Jo said that she wanted to ‘turbo-charge’ our response to loneliness,” reads a passage on the Commission’s official website. “This report shares the ideas the Commission has worked on over the past year, and it challenges national government to step forward and lead a renewed push to tackle loneliness.”
Added Prime Minister May: “Jo Cox recognized the scale of loneliness across the country and dedicated herself to doing all she could to help those affected. I am pleased that Government can build on her legacy with a ministerial lead for loneliness who will work with the Commission, businesses and charities to shine a light on the issue and pull together all strands of Government to create the first ever strategy.”
On a recent episode of “theZoomer,” our roundtable of experts gathered to discuss the growing issue of social isolation among seniors. You can watch this episode below.