News Video | Policy | GPs | Hospitals | Medical | Mental Health | Welfare | Search

 


Who would have thought you could die of loneliness?

Media Release – Monday September 30, 2013

Who would have thought you could die of loneliness?

Chronic loneliness is as big a health risk as smoking, drinking and obesity, but with nowhere near the same level of funding to address the issue, says Age Concern New Zealand.

As part of ongoing efforts to combat loneliness among older people, the charitable organisation has launched an awareness campaign, No New Zealander Should Ever Die of Loneliness.  A national appeal will help fund Age Concern services designed to help older people stay connected with their family, friends and community.

National president Evelyn Weir says research from the United Kingdom shows that having weak social connections carries a similar health risk to smoking 15 cigarettes each day or being an alcoholic, and research from the United States shows that people who feel very lonely are likely to die sooner.

“It is proven that loneliness is a risk factor for physical and mental health problems including cardiovascular disease, dementia, depression, as well as poor nutrition. This all means that being lonely and cut off from family, friends and community is very bad for health,” she says.

Loneliness affects health by raising blood pressure, increasing the release of stress hormones; lowering immunity, especially to viral infections; reducing sleep quality and creating daytime fatigue; and reducing the body’s ability to fight infection and respond to inflammation.

An older person who is chronically lonely and depressed is almost twice as likely to enter residential care, according to a University of Auckland study in 2006.

Mrs Weir says that having a regular visitor or having good social contacts can make a positive difference to the health and happiness of an older person.

To help, Age Concern offers services such as planned social activities and outings, exercise groups, education and health promotion, men’s groups, and the Accredited Visiting Service (AVS), where lonely older people can receive regular contact by a trained visitor.

During the year to June 2013, AVS made more than 75,000 visits and around 16,500 supportive phone calls, providing support to just over 3600 lonely and socially isolated older people. Mrs Weir says these people are now less lonely and more socially connected, but that there are still many lonely older New Zealanders who could be helped.

Current New Zealand research indicates that nearly 50,000 or about eight percent of people 65 years of age and over are identified as severely or chronically lonely.

“If each of these people were to be visited every week, this would require 2.6 million visits per year,” Mrs Weir says.

“Unfortunately, we can do only so much with the funding currently available.  But the public can help. For as little as $15 you can begin to reduce loneliness in the lives of older people. The more you can donate, the greater impact you will have.”

For more information about loneliness among older people and what’s being done to combat it, as well as ways that New Zealanders can help, please visit: helpthelonely.com

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines

 

A Series Of Tubes: 150 Years Of The Cook Strait Cable

“It was a momentous achievement for its time. The successful connection came on the third attempt at laying the cable, and followed a near disaster when the first cable snapped - almost destroying the ship Weymouth in the process,” says Ms Adams. More>>

ALSO:

February 2017: Guns N' Roses - New Zealand Dates Announced

Founder Axl Rose and former members, Slash and Duff McKagan have regrouped for one of the century’s most anticipated tours... Rolling Stone said: "This was the real thing, the thing we'd all been waiting for: the triumphant return of one of the most important bands to cross rock music history. And it happened in our lifetime.” More>>

Werewolf: Brando, Peckinpah And Billy The Kid

Gordon Campbell: Initially, One-Eyed Jacks was supposed to have been directed by Stanley Kubrick from a script by Sam Peckinpah – yet it quickly became Brando’s baby... More>>

Book Awards: ANZAC Heroes Wins Margaret Mahy Book Of The Year

“Simply stunning, with gold-standard production values,” say the judges of the winner of this year’s Margaret Mahy Book of the Year Award in the prestigious New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults. ANZAC Heroes is also the winner of the Elsie Locke Award for the Best Book in the Non-Fiction category. More>>

Baby Animals: Hamilton Zoo Rhino Calf Named

Hamilton Zoo’s latest rhino calf has been named Samburu and he's being celebrated with a unique zoo experience... Samburu arrived after his mother Kito’s 16-month pregnancy and the calf brings the number of white rhinos at Hamilton Zoo to six. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Rio Olympics

Were you pretty excited earlier this week when Vietnam won its first ever Olympic gold medal? Hanoi, reportedly, went wild... Perhaps we should keep Vietnam’s golden moment in mind as we gear up for saturation media coverage of New Zealand’s medal achievements in Rio. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
Health
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news