As we experience a growth in the age of our population, so too are we experiencing a growth in loneliness. Such a state of affairs doesn’t only represent an unwelcome way of life for many of our older people. It also constitutes a precursor to a host of poor medical and social outcomes that have economic ripple effects across families, industries and society as a whole. Increasingly, research has made clear loneliness places stress on individuals’ health as well the clinical and social infrastructure needed to support them. It increases the risk of death by 26% – meaning it carries an equivalent health risk to smoking and diabetes.
Could technology play a role in mitigating loneliness, and so improving lives and reducing poor health? Certainly the prime minister thinks so, having highlighted the role of smart technologies when she recently launched the healthy ageing grand challenge – identifying this as a key priority for government.
As the IBM Institute for Business Value outlines in its white paper “Loneliness and the ageing population – how businesses and governments can address a looming crisis”, action is needed and digital can be a key part of this.
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