Believe it or not, loneliness is as bad for your health as obesity, air pollution or physical inactivity. Some studies put loneliness as equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes per day.
In a recent poll in our Facebook patient group for people with chronic forms of aspergillosis 40% stated that they were lonely more than once per week and 75% of those stated that they were lonely every day. In total 73% recorded loneliness at least occasionally.
We also asked people who care for aspergillosis patients the same questions and this time 56% stated that they were lonely more than once per week, with 78% lonely at least occasionally.
Give those two poll results, are people lonely because they have a chronic illness that might restrict their socialising, and are they lonely because they look after someone with a chronic illness?
The level of loneliness in the general population in the UK is currently at 45%, so there are clearly more people who are lonely in both groups affected by aspergillosis (73% and 78%). Furthermore, 30% of those people who have chronic aspergillosis in our poll were lonely every day, which compares poorly with national statistics that show the number of people in the general population who are lonely as frequently as every day is only 5%.
Conclusion: There are six times as many people with chronic aspergillosis that are lonely every day compared with the general UK population!
Loneliness is clearly a big problem for people who either have chronic aspergillosis or care for someone with chronic aspergillosis.
What can we do about this?
Firstly, awareness of the problem is a big step forward. Awareness of its far-reaching consequences for our mental and physical health may provide some incentive to take action to try to change things. The campaign to end Loneliness (https://www.campaigntoendloneliness.org/the-facts-on-loneliness/) has found that those affected can be of all ages/genders/able or disabled/chronically ill or not and they aim to inspire everyone to connect and communities to come together to help. Nobody should be without company who wants it.
They also provide a lot of useful hints and tips on how to reduce your loneliness (https://www.campaigntoendloneliness.org/feeling-lonely/ ), how to connect with others a bit better, and reduce your health risks – if nothing else at the moment we all could do with getting together to keep warm! Regardless of why you feel lonely, we can all find a way to make connections no matter how fleeting – they all count.
Here at the National Aspergillosis Centre we hold weekly meetings for all patients both here in the UK and abroad
Zoom meetings are a casual and fun way to chat with fellow aspergillosis travelers and NAC staff (Tuesdays 2-3pm GMT and Thursdays 10 – 11am GMT) in which you can just sit and listen to us all chatting for an hour – all you need is a smartphone/tablet/laptop to join us.
The meetings are private so we do not give instructions on how to join on a public page such as this. For directions on how to get involved join one of the following groups and we will get back to you:
Of course some people are entirely happy on their own