Loneliness and social isolation are often mistaken as passing emotions that self-correct over time, but this is not always the case. Aging experts found that the impact of chronic loneliness and social isolation can be as harmful as smoking 15 cigarettes a day and deem it a public health epidemic. According to the National Institute on Aging, loneliness and social isolation increase the risk of mental health conditions like depression and cognitive impairment, and physical conditions like high blood pressure and heart disease. The impact is even greater in older adults in the United States as nearly half (46%) of the senior population struggles with social isolation.
Today, Alzheimer’s Disease and all related dementia illnesses affect over 5.4 million Americans, and this number is growing rapidly. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, by 2050 the number will grow to over 16 million. And while most affected are over 65, a condition called early Alzheimer’s also affects more and more people in their 40’s and 50’s.