Researchers are increasingly recognizing loneliness as a major health problem. A recent study, for example, found that loneliness has more than doubled among older people since the Covid-19 pandemic began.
Past research has also shown older people who experience loneliness have a higher risk of cognitive decline and dementia. Lonely people get sick more often, and take longer to get over infections. Loneliness also increases blood pressure and levels of stress hormones. Socially isolated people are more likely to be depressed, suffer from memory loss, and use alcohol and drugs. Likewise, evidence suggests that loneliness contributes to aging in a number of ways, and leads to reduced longevity. In fact, the health risks of loneliness areequivalent to those related to obesity or smoking 15 cigarettes a day.