Effects of chronic loneliness similar to “smoking half a pack of cigarettes a day for many years”

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

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

The sense of isolation and loneliness is sometimes debilitating for a man who enjoys chatting about cooking, music, and his many other interests. Walker’s only lifeline to the outside world is the Institute on Aging’s Friendship Line, which connects homebound seniors with volunteers over the phone.

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

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