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Why you should be doing something now about loneliness

PUBLISHED: 08:12 23 January 2018

Loneliness can affect all of us sometime in our lives.

Loneliness can affect all of us sometime in our lives.

Marjan_Apostolovic

Your fightback against loneliness in later life should begin right now, says Sharon Griffiths.

Loneliness is literally a killer. It’s as bad for you as smoking, worse than obesity and makes you more liable to heart disease, dementia and depression. All you need, really.

Quite what the government can do about it, I’m not sure but at least they’re trying, with the appointment of Tracey Crouch as Minister for Loneliness.

It’s a problem for us all since society has changed. Families are scattered all over the world. We hardly see our neighbours, don’t walk so much to school or work or the shops. Meeting places such as pubs and post offices have closed. You can have 100 online friends and yet still have no one to talk to for days. The world is a lonely place

So we all have to make more effort. Not just to help other people - are we really too busy to help a neighbour or just stop and chat for a few minutes? – but above all to help ourselves.

We encourage our small children to make friends. We give student offspring a big tin of cake or biscuits and tell them to knock on doors in student residences but after a certain stage in life we seem to lose the knack of making new friends ourselves. Until suddenly we’re on our own and it’s too late.

Long before it gets to that stage we should be keeping our friendships in good repair, making the effort to keep in touch, however busy our lives are. One day they won’t be. Making and keeping friends, getting out and about, giving our lives purpose, is all part of our instinct for self-preservation.

We can never guarantee that the sad twists of life and fate won’t leave us with no one to talk to but the television. The least we can do is try and delay that moment for as long as we can.

So if you’ve still got those Christmas cards with those messages saying “It would be nice to meet up sometime,” maybe this is the year you should act on it – if only for your own sake.

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