Do you have someone who loves you and cares for you? Do you have a source of joy in your life? Do you have a sense of peace today?
Since mid-2018, staff at AdventHealth have asked patients in outpatient settings those three questions in an attempt to identify health needs beyond the physical realm.
In response, patients often say that they don’t have anyone who cares for them, or they feel isolated from their community.
In other words, they’re lonely.
“A top trend (among our patients) is loneliness,” said Angela Augusto, director of mission integration at the Altamonte Springs, Fla.-based health system. “And we are not seeing it in any particular age demographic. It’s as prevalent with our young patients as our older generation of patients.”
The responses from AdventHealth patients are on par with trends nationally. Studies and surveys estimate between one-third to nearly half of the U.S. population is lonely.
And there is a strong body of research that feeling lonely impacts health and treatment outcomes. A commonly cited finding is that those who are socially isolated have a 50% higher chance of death compared with those who aren’t, likening it to smoking 15 cigarettes a day.