Retired? Getting ready to retire? What’s the biggest issue you’ll face?
Not only is the answer to the above question important, it’s been my experience that identifying it could save your life.
I’m referring to loneliness.
Doctors have spent decades warning us about the dangers of obesity. But the medical world has only recently awakened to the negative health repercussions from the type of loneliness that millions of people experience during retirement.
How common is it? How dangerous? What can you do about it?
A recent study of 3.4 million North Americans and Europeans, spanning decades, and which combined 10 of the most influential studies on the topic, found that loneliness and social isolation are just as likely to cause an early death as are smoking or obesity.
Additionally, this study proved that loneliness in retirement also:
- Increased the risk of depression
- Led to substance abuse
- Raised the risk of heart disease
- Hastened the onset of Alzheimer’s
The Opposite of Lonely
The good news is that loneliness is treatable. And that just by making a few reasonable changes, a majority of us can thwart its negative effects and enrich and improve our lives.
It usually begins like this. You stop working, maybe you divorce, move to a less-expensive state, or, I’m sorry to say that maybe your spouse dies, and you find yourself alone or far away from friends and family.
About 30 percent of people over the age of 65 live alone, and that number jumps to 40 percent for people over the age of 70, so a large number of us will eventually be on our own. 
If this is you, or someone you know, what should you do?