More than one-thirds of adults aged 45 and older feel lonely and nearly one-fourth of adults aged 65 and older are socially isolated, according to a 2020 report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.
But increased rates of social isolation and feelings of loneliness did not start in 2020. This has been around long before the COVID-19 pandemic, and Boston-based organization FriendshipWorks has been trying to end this issue for more than 37 years.
"Our enduring mission has been to reduce social isolation, improve quality of life and maintain the dignity of older adults in the Greater Boston area," said Janet Seckel-Cerrotti, FriendshipWorks' executive director. "Our vision really is to end elder isolation and create connection for all."
FriendshipWorks matches volunteers with older adults who identify as feeling lonely or socially isolated. Volunteers visit their new friends on a weekly basis.
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The organization is among one of those that brought an early screening of the international film, "All The Lonely People," to Brookline's Coolidge corner last Thursday to spark a conversation about loneliness being common among all ages.
"It's the stigma, I think, that we would hope to break, making it OK to say, 'I'm lonely,'" Stu Maddux, the film's director, said at the screening. "Somebody here tonight is going to be helped."
The video atop this article goes into detail about the issue, including information and advice from medical professionals.