Professor Rolls added that loneliness and social isolation were two problems that had been exacerbated by COVID-19: “Now, in the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are implications for social relationship interventions and care – particularly in the older population.”
Alongside the problem worsening due to the biggest health crisis for a generation, Professor Roll said loneliness and social isolation had been “a serious yet underappreciated public health problem”, one that hasn’t been attended to until it has reached a crisis point.
The University of Warwick’s Professor Jianfeng Feng added: “During any future pandemic lockdowns, it is important that individuals, especially older adults, do not experience social isolation.”
Co-researcher, Professor Barbara Sahakian, who worked on the Cambridge team, echoed these comments, calling for the Government “and communities [to] take action to ensure that older individuals have communication and interactions with others on a regular basis”.
While loneliness and social isolation are becoming ever more significant risk factors for dementia, they form part of a wide gamut of risk factors associated with the disease.
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