In a new study published in Ageing and Society, researchers Sam Carr and Chao Fang spent over 130 hours interviewing older people to understand what it’s like to get old and cope with loneliness. The Conversation UK features their report, appropriately titled Loneliness, loss and regret: what getting old really feels like.
We found that ageing brings about a series of inevitable losses that deeply challenge people’s sense of connection to the world around them. Loneliness can often be oversimplified or reduced to how many friends a person has or how often they see their loved ones.But a particular focus for us was to better understand what underpins feelings of loneliness in older people on a deeper level. Researchers have used the term “existential loneliness” to describe this deeper sense of feeling “separated from the world” – as though there is an insurmountable gap between oneself and the rest of society. Our objective was to listen carefully to how people experienced and responded to this.
A difficult yet worthwhile read.