Solitude can be enjoyed or suffered, and we can even feel alone when surrounded by others. Most likely, all of us will experience loneliness at some point in our lives, especially as we grow old. In this dossier, we try and define loneliness; this complex phenomenon will most certainly increase in a society undergoing an unstoppable aging trend which, paradoxically, emphasizes the values of youth above all else. Ours is an individualist society in which the growth of new digital forms of communication doesn’t necessarily make us more sociable or reduce our feeling of isolation.
The authors of these articles agree that loneliness increases our risk of suffering from mental and physical illnesses. They insist on the need to interact with others and take part in social activities to reduce this risk. In fact, one of the first steps we need to take to reduce the problem of solitude among the elderly is to create community.
In Barcelona, where there are over 100,000 individuals over the age of 60 living alone, there are also a number of support programs for seniors, such as the Servei de Teleassistència (Telecare Service), Radars, Vincles (Ties), Amics de la Gent Gran (Friends of the Elderly) or the Baixem al carrer (Let’s go out) program. We’ll interview some of the protagonists and beneficiaries of these services, who’ll show us how something as simple as going out in good company can help us regain our love of life.