Take a look at your friend circle – are all the individuals around your age?
Click start to play today’s Spell It, where we learn how one is likely to become a ‘loner’ with age.
Loneliness doesn’t discriminate – it can creep up on you when you’re young and surrounded by people, or remain with you when you’re older and alone.
But people from different age groups define loneliness differently.
In teenage years or young adulthood, people often tend to place greater value on the number of people they know, rather than the quality of their relationships with them. A 2016 study published in the International Journal of Aging and Human Development found that people aged between 18 and 29 determined their loneliness based on the quantity of time spent socialising, while those between 30 and 64 determined it through the quality of time they spent with people that mattered to them.
However, all said and done, three groups are most at-risk for loneliness, according to 2016-2017 data from the UK’s Community Life Survey: widowed, older homeowners who live alone and have long-term health issues, unmarried, middle-aged adults with long-term health conditions, and younger people who are renting and don’t feel like they belong in the community.
Interestingly, there is a way to combat loneliness that would help all three of these groups. What if they befriended one another?
According to a 2021 study in the journal Social Inclusion, making friends with someone from a different generation has been found to be an effective way to curb loneliness. The practice has been found to help widen perspectives, create a solid support network, and increase social inclusion.
The benefits of intergenerational friendships go both ways. When older adults befriend people younger to them, they are able to pick up new skills, get a fresh perspective on culture, and to be more open-minded. Since social isolation has been linked to health problems, like depression, having energetic, youthful people around provides much-needed human contact.
Younger adults, on the other hand, are able to gain the wisdom of older generations, learn valuable life lessons, and get reassurance from them that they can get through any difficult moment life throws at them.