Impact of Chronic Loneliness Similar to “Smoking a Half-Pack of Cigarettes a Day for Many Years”

Elderly woman sitting alone and looking sadly outside the window
Diane Eastabrook provides a compelling series of articles describing how loneliness and isolation are affecting seniors living at home.

Editor’s note: This is the first article in a series published on McKnight’s Home Care about how loneliness and isolation are affecting seniors at home. It stems from writer Diane Eastabrook’s participation in the 2021 Age Boom Academy, a free training fellowship of the Columbia Journalism School and the Mailman School of Public Health.

A stroke four years ago turned 74-year-old David Walker’s life upside down, leaving the affable Navy veteran with vision trouble and paralysis in one leg. Except for occasional visits from a caregiver, Walker is mostly alone and confined to his San Francisco studio apartment.

The sense of isolation and loneliness is sometimes debilitating for a man who loves to chat about cooking, music and his many other interests. Walker’s one lifeline to the outside world is the Institute on Aging’s Friendship Line, which connects homebound seniors via telephone to volunteers.

Click here to continue reading this article, and to read other articles in this series, at McKnight’s Home Care.