A sociologist is highlighting the impact loneliness has on older people both in care and in the community.
Around 16 to 20 per cent of people aged 65 and up experience loneliness in most western countries, with higher rates (up to 61 per cent) for those in long-term care and living alone with health issues.
Dr. Barbora Barbosa Neves, a senior lecturer at Monash University who specializes in loneliness and social isolation, says that loneliness can cause a range of illnesses that require long-term support including stroke, depression, cardiovascular disease and dementia. The risk of dementia increases by 40 per cent regardless of the genetic risk.
She says the two main aspects needed to combat loneliness is social inclusion and connectiveness. She says social interaction for the sake of it is not enough; it needs to be meaningful.