Taking Homecare into the Future, from Helplines and Caregivers to Robots
In a New York Times article that came out September this year, author Katie Hafner writes about older adults who are experiencing loneliness at significantly higher levels. The article is titled “Researchers Confront an Epidemic of Loneliness”-- and the choice of the word “epidemic” is especially appropriate. Hafner compiles anecdotes and research that illustrate an aspect of loneliness that we as a society tend to ignore-- its very real physical effects. She quotes Dr. John T. Cacioppo, a psychology professor at the University of Chicago, who says, “Denying you feel lonely makes no more sense than denying you feel hunger.” Apart from its self-evident mental and psychological aspects, chronic loneliness is associated with such physical ramnifications as increased levels of cortisol, a major stress hormone, and higher vascular resistance, which can raise blood pressure and decrease blood flow to vital organs. It’s becoming more apparent that loneliness doesn’t just hurt emotionally-- it hurts physically, too (though these distinctions are somewhat facetious-- anyone who’s feeling lonely can tell you they don’t feel well).