Social Isolation and Loneliness have attracted lots of media attention recently due to the large negative impact that being lonely and lacking human interactions can have on quality of life. And this is seen as being especially problematic for older adults, although it is also prevalent among younger demographics.
As an illustration of this phenomenon: when we surveyed a cohort of older adults from around the country, roughly one in three said they “would really, really like some new friends or to meet new people with common interests to me“.
This is our “Topic Hub” where we collect our research and exploration into Loneliness and Social Isolation. We are especially focused on ways to combat loneliness and avoid social isolation.
Exploring Grandparent Apps
“Once you are a grandparent, almost nothing seems as important as interacting with your grandkids, and helping them and their parents as much as you can.” But, if you can’t visit, or live a long way away, how do you maintain the sorts of deep interactions you long for?
This group of four older adults from the Longevity Explorers thought “there should be an App for that”, and set out to explore the space of “Grandparenting Apps”.
Virtual Connections to the Tech-Challenged
How do you have rich and engaging interactions with your parent who you can’t visit in person? Especially if they cannot, or will not, adopt mainstream consumer technologies.
That’s the challenge we are exploring in this article.
How to Set Up Alexa Calling for a Loved One
Are you looking for a way to setup video chats with your loved one who lives independently or in a facility? This article tells you how to do that, using the Echo Show, without requiring your loved one to do any of the “setting up”.
Can Alexa Help Fight Loneliness and Isolation?
Perhaps it seems counterintuitive that an artificial intelligence(AI) might help combat loneliness and isolation. But as our Longevity Explorers evaluate the latest version of Alexa, paired with the Amazon Echo Show, which has an excellent video call capability, we are starting to see great potential for these products to do just that.
And while there are a variety of initiatives evaluating the potential of interactions between older adults and Alexa (Amazon’s artificial intelligence) as a way to reduce loneliness, we think the communication capabilities of the Echo Show may make possible deeper human to human interactions (with friends and family for example) as well.
Isolated and Lonely: How Can We Avoid This?
How do you avoid becoming isolated and lonely as you get older? Are there things you can do to help prevent this?
Isolation and loneliness is a very real fear for many older adults. Many of us know of someone suffering from it, and it can be very sad. Our Longevity Explorers came up with some practical tips to help avoid this problem.
Additional Research in this Topic Hub
Learn About “Overcoming Loneliness” in this Discussion
This group of Longevity Explorers had a lengthy, and especially insightful, round table discussion about ways to avoid or overcome loneliness. It’s well worth a listen.
Among other things, they talk about the value of “affinity groups”, where you are interacting with others for a purpose related to a topic you have an interest in — as distinct from a purely social occasion.
If you listen to this carefully, you will find a “formula for overcoming loneliness” emerges from this discussion.
The Formula for Overcoming Loneliness
Here it is, boiled down to its simplest elements.
1. You do need to be interested in something. It doesn’t much matter what, but this formula only works if you are interested in something. It could be cooking, or model trains, or nuclear physics, or singing. The details don’t matter, so long as you are interested in it.
2. Find a group that meets regularly to interact about that “interest”. It could be a club or a Meetup. It can be face to face, which is ideal. But if that is hard, it can be a virtual group that interacts online or in a virtual world.
3. Start attending regularly. You should find the meetings are interesting, as they will be about the topic you are interested in.
4. Important tip: Look for a group that interacts about the topic. Not a group that just has some expert lecturing to an audience, unless there is also some interaction. If you are just sitting and listening, it still might be interesting, but it is not part of this loneliness formula.
5. When you are there, add your opinions and comments. Even if you are shy, look for opportunities to contribute. It’s your topic after all, so don’t hold back.
6. Keep going. After a while (months, maybe a year or two) you will find you suddenly “know” quite a few of the other people who attend. Maybe they are not yet “friends”, but certainly “acquaintances” with whom you share common interests.
7. Look for ways to take a more active role, maybe helping to organize. You will just get to know people better and better that way.
According to our explorers, this has worked for many of them. Let us know what you think about this idea.
If you want to add comments about this “formula for avoiding loneliness”, you can do it on the original post where the discussion appeared which you can find here.
More Longevity Explorer Discussions on Social isolation and Loneliness
See a large collection of such discussions from our explorer community on various aspects of loneliness and isolation: