YOU’RE not alone. The scourge of loneliness is sweeping the land. David Brooks, the Opinion columnist of The New York Times for 20 years, wrote in the AARP Bulletin that the scourge of loneliness is widespread because people are less likely to attend church, synagogue and mosque, to belong to the Elks Club or the Kiwanis Club, and are having smaller families.
“A lot of the cause of loneliness and isolation is that people are not good at socializing,” Brooks, 62, says.
In May, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy issued an official advisory declaring loneliness to be an epidemic. He warned that isolation can be just as deadly as heavy smoking and “poses a greater risk to longevity than being sedentary or obese,” according to The New York Times.
People magazine reported how Rita Moreno, the West Side Story icon, found herself “really lonely” after moving from her house in California’s Berkeley to a new condominium.
Moreno, 92, the star of the Netflix movie Family Switch, says, “I’m in the most beautiful apartment in the world” yet unhappy. People used to flock to her, but now she must go out and make new friends.
In Israel, Yad Sarah, the country’s oldest volunteer organization known for lending out medical equipment including wheelchairs and walkers, has updated their beeper service. They are now monitoring people suffering from loneliness to provide intervention when needed.
The United Kingdom in 2018 appointed a Minister of Loneliness.
In New York, now that our sexual hangups have been resolved, thanks to Dr. Ruth Westheimer who gained national celebrity with her therapy all these years, we can turn our attention to this silent plague of loneliness. To that end, Gov. Kathy Hochul has designated Dr. Ruth, 95, as New York State’s first ambassador for loneliness.
The key to keeping loneliness at bay is to stay busy in a meaningful way, Dr. Ruth told The New York Times. “If you feel lonely, don’t be just with other lonely people. That’s not going to be productive.”
In the AARP Bulletin, Dr. Ruth says she survives due to her attitude toward life: “Also, I exercise. And I exercise my mouth. I talk day and night. It exercises my brain.”