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U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy recently released a report recognizing a growing understanding of “Our Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation.” Dr. Murthy says early in his first tenure as Surgeon General, from 2014-2017, a cross-country tour provided evidence that “social disconnection was far more common than [he] had realized.” Shortly thereafter, the Covid-19 pandemic exacerbated an issue already confirmed in the scientific literature, increasing the social harm that is “associated with a greater risk of cardiovascular disease, dementia, stroke, depression, anxiety, and premature death.”
For Together, the report’s description of the impact of social isolation on cognitive function echoed our own understanding - chronic loneliness and social isolation can increase the risk of developing dementia by approximately 50%, with the rate of cognitive decline increasing 20% faster. Fortunately, the report both recognizes this problem and presents a response, stating that the “evidence consistently shows that wider social networks and more frequent social engagements with friends and family are associated with better cognitive function and may protect against the risk of dementia. This suggests that investments in social connection may be an important public health response to cognitive decline.”
Reducing the impact of social isolation is a key tenet of our Moving TogetherTM program, which has been shown not only to reduce social isolation and loneliness, but increase connectedness and engagement, as well as build social networks within our group classes. Our participants meet regularly with the same instructor and same classmates, bringing consistent social connections right into their homes.
Click here to view the full 2023 report: Our Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation
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