Do we need a loneliness minister?

It’s complicated. While one can reduce social isolation, the cure may lie within.
One of the many ironies of modern living is that while technology is bringing people closer, the sense of loneliness is growing. That’s because a text message can never replace a hug, and virtual Siri a real friend.

Reports now suggest that loneliness can be worse for your health than smoking fifteen cigarettes a day, and that lonely people are more likely to develop cognitive disabilities such as clinical dementia. In a dramatic gesture, the UK recently introduced a Minister of Loneliness which sounds more like the title of a Manu Joseph book but is, in fact, a very real attempt to acknowledge a modern malfunction and its consequences — to individuals and to the state.

Where does one begin? Just as you can’t buy love, can you cure loneliness? Perhaps this overwhelming and depressing and poetic subject can be divided into two broad spaces – social isolation and inner loneliness, a deeply existential space.
Social isolation is now being addressed through innovative policies across the world. In the Netherlands, a nursing home tied up with a university for an exchange programme where students live rent-free in return for giving 30 hours per week socializing with the elderly residents and helping them develop new skills. Australia supports a unique idea of Men Sheds, spaces where men — and increasingly women and young folk — share tools, skills and resources to work on community projects and also support one another on social and health needs. Singapore, afflicted by the ‘silver tsunami’ of a growing elderly population, instituted the Retirement and Re-employment Act some years ago, to provide more opportunities for people to go back to work after the statutory retirement age of 62. Some have thought about facilitating inter-generational interaction by co-locating elder care and childcare facilities, so that both sides stand to gain. Others have created support systems for women, where aloneness – especially at a crucial child-bearing age – smells of failure......Read more
Source web page: Times of india

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