Three years ago, on January 20, 2020, the first U.S. case of COVID-19 was diagnosed in in Snohomish County, WA. As the virus began its initial spread across that country, the preexisting conditions of the U.S.healthcare system became clear for all to see – the risks of linking healthcare insurance to employment, years of underinvestment in public health and deep-rooted health care disparities. In addition,loneliness, which impacts both mental and physical, became part of the public discourse.
Loneliness was identified as a public health problem years before the pandemic. In 2017, the current United States Surgeon General, Vivek Murthy, said the country was experiencing an “epidemic of loneliness.” A 2019 study commissioned by Cigna, found that 61% of adults reported experiencing loneliness. The results from their December 2021 survey were consistent, with 58% of adults considered lonely.
Loneliness is not merely missing out on some of the joy of life. Loneliness is associated with increased risk of health conditions such as dementia, heart disease, stroke, and premature death. A frequently referenced study by professor by Julianne Holt-Lunstad of Brigham Young University compared the risk effects of loneliness, isolation, and weak social networks to smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Loneliness is estimated to costs U.S. businesses more than $154 billion annually in lost productivity. Check out Someone to Talk To for more information on loneliness!
This Weekend Reading series begins with Some News, with some of the stories making the healthcare headlines. Next check out Someone to Talk To with articles on the impact of loneliness and strategies to address the problem. In Something to Talk About explore articles on creating a caregiving plan, nutritional myths, and more! Finally, do not miss Something Good and my person favorite – Farmer dies; town learns he secretly paid strangers’ pharmacy bills!
I hope you enjoy the following:
1. Some News
- Americans Sour on U.S. Healthcare Quality (Gallup)
- Follow-Up Colonoscopy Rates Low After Positive Stool-Based Test (HealthDay)
- Less Than a Third of Heavily Advertised Drugs Have ‘High Therapeutic Value’ (HealthDay)
2. Someone to Talk To
- New Studies Suggest Social Isolation Is a Risk Factor for Dementia in Older Adults, Point to Ways to Reduce Risk (Johns Hopkins)
- Therapy by chatbot? The promise and challenges in using AI for mental health (NPR)
- Work and the Loneliness Epidemic (Harvard Business Review)
3. Something to Talk About
- How to Make a Caregiving Plan (So It’s Ready When You Need It (The New York Times)
- 10 Nutrition Myths Experts Wish Would Die (The New York Times)
- Mix-it-yourself Segovia? Some are trying risky sources for weight-loss drugs (STAT News)
- How to talk to children about gun violence (PBS News Hour)
4. Something Good
- Farmer dies; town learns he secretly paid strangers’ pharmacy bills (The Washington Post)
- Researchers have followed over 700 people since 1938 to find the keys to happiness. Here’s what they discovered (Fortune)
- It’s the Coolest Rock Show in Ann Arbor. And Almost Everyone There Is Over 65. (The New York Times)
Enjoy your weekend!
Suzanne Daniels, Ph.D.
P.O. Box 1416
Birmingham, MI 48012
Office: (248) 792-2187
Email: [email protected]