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The cost of loneliness: Canadians are facing a solitary future — and it's affecting their healt...

The cost of loneliness: Canadians are facing a solitary future — and it's affecting their health

Posted by ACH2015 on Dec 20, 2019 9:46 am

I found this article the other day. I decided although not directly cancer related, it is important to share here and lend perspective to a situation that some (me included) of us may be in, and the importance of being and staying socially connected to others.

“If you’re interacting with a group, people are expecting you. You’re motivated,” said Roberts. “When you’re by yourself, it’s easy to get into that negativity spiral. It’s important to get that reinforcement from people.”
 

"In the space of a few short years, loneliness has gone from a subject for poets and songwriters to a public health conundrum to be solved — not just to promote individual happiness, but as a potential money-saver for the health-care system. Some studies have linked chronic loneliness to the risk of early death, coronary heart disease, stroke, cognitive decline and dementia. People who are lonely are more prone to depression. Loneliness and a lack of social interaction are predictive of suicide among older people".

"In 2015, researchers at the University of Manitoba’s Centre on Aging reported that among people 45-plus who were hospitalized, being lonely was associated with a higher likelihood of returning to hospital. Being more socially isolated was associated with a higher likelihood of remaining in hospital for longer".

"All this evidence is piling up at the same time that shifting demographics point to a solitary future for many Canadians. The 2016 census found that, for the first time in recorded Canadian history, one-person households are the most common household type in the country".

"Being disconnected is just as dangerous to good health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, and is more predictive of early death than the effects of air pollution or being a couch potato, according to oft-cited research by Julianne Holt-Lunstad of Brigham Young University. Another study of 5,100 Americans and their social contacts published in 2008 suggested that loneliness is contagious. When one person feels lonely, it can spread to others in the network. Over time, every additional day of loneliness per week led to about an extra day of loneliness per month for those in the social network".

Read the article: The Cost of Loneliness - and its affecting your health.

Certainly many of us here, given our diagnosis or that of a partner's has changed our social lives. Having to retire, physical and mental changes that follow treatments,  losing your partner to cancer, and a whole host of other reasons can lead anyone down that lonely path.

I struggle with loneliness. Now retired after years on LTD and trying to adjust to surveillance from years of active treatment, my new physical and mental realities have all to some degree contributed to my loneliness.

Recent changes at a support group I'd attended long term, resulted in many of us leaving the group we"d attended for a year or two. That was a break in socialization amongst people with cancer that "get it". What the facilitator failed to "get" was that support is given and received and also provides that social aspect of believing you belong somewhere. Just one example I'm sharing.

My family dynamics aren't great for many reasons, and some mutual  repair has been achieved to date. Nothing has been "normal" in my life since 2015, and having the dust settle in my health situation has been both a blessing and another hole left to fill in life. I find my connectivity comes in pieces these days. I did a 12 week (cancer survivors) exercise program that ended in October. We all said and felt the same. The group connection kept us coming back. We had purpose of self and toward each other. Encouragement, kidding and just good old comradery.

We are all different. Different abilities, strengths, resilience levels and needs. I benefit from reading and receiving positive reinforcement from links, books, things that strike a cord with me, and I can refer to to help move forward when I stall. Finding the way toward keeping your mind in the moving forward aspect, I think, is one of the key tools we need to keep sharpened.

A couple of lyrics of song from my past: Only the Lonely - the Motels.

"So hold on here we go
Hold on to nothin' we know
I feel so lonely
Way up here"

"You mention the time we were together
So long ago well I don't remember
All I know is it makes me feel good now"

A song I love, but not the way for any of us to live.

Keep well, by keeping connected. You're not alone in your loneliness.

ACH2015

 

Re: The cost of loneliness: Canadians are facing a solitary future — and it's affecting their health

Posted by Brighty on Dec 20, 2019 10:04 am

‍ 

ACH2015‍  thank you for posting.   I can relate  to loneliness too.      I used to spend a lot of time with Danny.   After losing him to cancer the loneliness was unbearable .     I was grateful to have work and my grief support  group  which  gave me  places of belonging and somewhere to go.   Although I have friends  and family everyone is busy with their own lives..  and they didn't truly understand  how I felt.     My pet was a great source of comfort to me.     After a while I got into a sort of routine and got used to spending a lot of time alone  and actually  sometimes I enjoy my alone time.    I like a mixture  of alone time and time with others.     We need to be with others but we also need to learn to be by ourselves and be comfortable in our own skin.      
Help is out there. All you have to do is reach out.

Re: The cost of loneliness: Canadians are facing a solitary future — and it's affecting their health

Posted by Runner Girl on Dec 20, 2019 10:07 am

Thank you for sharing this ACH2015‍ .  It is so very important to maintain social connections these days, even if they are just online or email connections.  Everyone needs and deserves to know that someone out the cares that they got out of bed on any particular day.

I am no stranger to loneliness.  I've suffered it most of my life.  Now, with almost my entire family passed I really have no one to turn to.  My brother lives in Northern BC, we've reconnected since Mom's death, but have been estranged for more than 30 years.  

I have good connections with the folks in my office, but am disappointed in many of my so-called long time friends that no longer feel the need to connect with me since I was diagnosed.  

I have made good connections here, and am grateful.

Runner Girl
Never stop believing in HOPE because MIRACLES happen every day!

Re: The cost of loneliness: Canadians are facing a solitary future — and it's affecting their health

Posted by ACH2015 on Dec 20, 2019 10:08 am

Brighty‍,  Agreed re being by ourselves - as long as you are comfortable with both the level and duration of that alone time.

Balance and desire for both is a personal thing.

ACH2015

Re: The cost of loneliness: Canadians are facing a solitary future — and it's affecting their health

Posted by Brighty on Dec 20, 2019 10:15 am

ACH2015‍  exactly  I agree with  that. .. I think people need a balance  because  you can't always be with others at all times..  but it's not good to be alone all the time either.  It can lead to depression.     

​​​​​​
Help is out there. All you have to do is reach out.

Re: The cost of loneliness: Canadians are facing a solitary future — and it's affecting their health

Posted by Wendy Tea on Dec 20, 2019 11:59 am

Runner Girl‍ and Brighty‍ , you are not without family because you both have a new older "sister" and I have 2 new younger "sisters".  We are family for life! Yup, you are stuck with me!

Hugs to all,
Wendy Tea 
I am a survivor. Wendy Tea

Re: The cost of loneliness: Canadians are facing a solitary future — and it's affecting their health

Posted by Brighty on Dec 20, 2019 12:06 pm

Wendy Tea‍  like the song goes 'I'm so happy to be stuck with you...' WesT‍  is that huey lewis and the news who sings that ?
Help is out there. All you have to do is reach out.

Re: The cost of loneliness: Canadians are facing a solitary future — and it's affecting their health

Posted by Runner Girl on Dec 20, 2019 12:46 pm

Wendy Tea‍ ,
I'll take being "stuck" with you any day!  You are a doll!

Runner Girl
Never stop believing in HOPE because MIRACLES happen every day!

Re: The cost of loneliness: Canadians are facing a solitary future — and it's affecting their health

Posted by Cynthia Mac on Dec 21, 2019 10:29 am

I will second that, Runner Girl‍ ! And yes, Wendy Tea‍ , that was Huey Lewis and the News.

I am very proud of my Dad, and no more so than this year. Dad was like many people (not just men) whose work IS their social life. When he retired, Mom’s social life became his (not exactly by his choice! LOL). As most of you know, he lost mom over 2 years ago, so he lost ties with some of her social clubs, and he had fewer reasons to drive into town on a regular basis. He did maintain their “coffee klatch” (which was mostly guys anyway), but as he sank into depression this fall, he stopped going even to that. 

He, of course, recognized the signs of his depression far before I did, and he took the steps to start digging out of it: he contacted his GP, and he started pushing himself to get out and do things. Both of these are vital to clawing your way out of a depression (and I think any of you who have had depression agree that clawing is about the right word.) He has also stopped drinking any alcohol which has helped him along, too.

Dad got really lonely when Mom passed away - they’d been married almost 59 years. It’s a hell of an adjustment to make at that age. Dad’s spent thousands of hours doing solitary things - restoring vehicles, and building wrought iron in his garage - so while it seemed as though he was a “loner,” he always had his companion just 50 feet or so away, in another part of the property. Even now, he doesn’t like being in the house because it’s “lonely,” but he seems fine when he’s in the garage.

Depression can easily enough be linked to loneliness, and it can be compounded when it cancer is also involved.
“When the root is deep, there is no reason to fear the wind.” - Japanese saying

Re: The cost of loneliness: Canadians are facing a solitary future — and it's affecting their health

Posted by WestCoastSailor on Dec 21, 2019 1:50 pm

ACH2015‍ 

What a great thread.

To share my piece, I have been doing the five check-in questions daily from "Picking up the Pieces" For a refresher they are:
  1. How is my body doing?
  2. How am I feeling?
  3. What am I thinking?
  4. Who have I connected with today?
  5. What have I done to give my self a sense of Peace?
That fourth one about connection is really important for me. If I find I have gone a couple of days without any interaction, I make an attempt to break out of that. Whether it is a phone call, a coffee date, a movie - just get out of my head and visit others.  I am deliberately scheduling some down days to allow myself to recover from a lot of social interaction that ends up happening some days.

I'm slowly moving out of the cancer and grief circles too. While being with people that "get it" is important - it is important to have places where you are not defined by your diagnosis. So reconnecting with my software user group has been fun. I'm still looking for some sort of Makerspace or Men's Shed where I can do some woodworking/fixing stuff. I have a standing invitation to go curling which all though I was a high school champ I haven't done for fifty years. And I signed up for my first Watercolor workshop in the New Year.

Like most things, I think intention is required.

Angus
My story: http://journey.anguspratt.ca

Re: The cost of loneliness: Canadians are facing a solitary future — and it's affecting their health

Posted by ACH2015 on Dec 21, 2019 2:20 pm

WestCoastSailor‍ Angus,

Thanks for sharing, and reminding us of the importance of the 5 daily check in questions we can all benefit from.

Breaking out of isolation's cycle with the daily self check questions is good preventative medicine involving communotherapy (TM pending). Its not a drug, its a state of being of both body and mind.

ACH2015

Re: The cost of loneliness: Canadians are facing a solitary future — and it's affecting their health

Posted by WesT on Dec 21, 2019 3:07 pm

Brighty:
Wendy Tea‍  like the song goes 'I'm so happy to be stuck with you...' WesT‍  is that huey lewis and the news who sings that ?

Brighty‍ , yes, Huey Lewis and The News Stuck With You...

Re: The cost of loneliness: Canadians are facing a solitary future — and it's affecting their health

Posted by Trinity0817 on Dec 22, 2019 12:39 am

It takes a village...
Sometimes we and our doctors diagnose depression when in fact we are lonely, and a friendly face and a few words shared can make all the difference.  Loneliness and depression can exacerbate each other; depressed people tend to isolate themselves, and the loneliness causes them to feel more depressed.  It's a vicious circle and being a part of an on-line community can be the start of the journey back.
It takes a village, one in which we can be ourselves and share our good times and bad.  We need to know that others are in our corner, and to be able to offer solace to others in need.
This looks like a lovely group of people who are willing to be raw and vulnerable, which is really a super power in disguise.
I feel very fortunate to have found you all.

Re: The cost of loneliness: Canadians are facing a solitary future — and it's affecting their health

Posted by Trinity0817 on Dec 22, 2019 3:10 pm

ACH2015, I just realized what you said: "You're not alone in your loneliness."  Perfectly said!