Nicoletta Crollini is the Haemophilia Social Worker, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney
According to the Australian Loneliness Report, loneliness is experienced by 1 in 4 Australians and people under the age of 65 report experiencing higher feelings of loneliness. Even though we might associate loneliness with growing older, an article I read recently explained that loneliness is not just something experienced by the elderly, who in fact report to feel the least lonely in society.
How do we define loneliness? It can be defined as the feeling or perception of being alone and separate from people. In contrast, social isolation is defined as physically being apart from people. Thus, loneliness is unique to every individual. You can physically be alone but not feel lonely, or you can be surrounded by many people and feel lonely.
Research shows loneliness focuses on the quality of relationships we have and not the quantity. A quality relationship is a meaningful connection where the individual feels understood by others.
Some facts about lonely people:
Lonely people report having poorer health, both physically and mentally, than those who feel more connected.
Lonely people have increased levels of depression and anxiety regarding social interactions.
Additionally, higher levels of loneliness are associated with increased levels of social interaction anxiety, reduced social interaction, poor mental wellbeing and a poorer quality of life.
So, with all this loneliness doom and gloom, how can one feel less lonely and more connected?
Loneliness might not be specific to the haemophilia and rare bleeding disorder community; however, it is something we all experience. Having the knowledge and ability to identify and respond to feelings of loneliness can have positive impacts on our physical and mental health that are instantaneous.
Australian Psychological Society; Swinburne University of Technology. Australian loneliness report: A survey exploring the loneliness levels of Australians and the impact on their health and wellbeing. APS; SUT: Melbourne, 2018.
Lim, M.. The young Australian loneliness survey: Understanding loneliness in adolescence and young adulthood. Victorian Health Promotion Foundation: Melbourne, 2019
Haemophilia Foundation Australia acknowledges the Traditional Owners and Custodians of Country throughout Australia, the land, waters and community where we walk, live, meet and work. We pay our respects to Elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.