25.12.2018 00:00 h.
Experts already qualify the loneliness of the epidemic, with health damage superior to obesity or tobacco. But its biggest impact comes at Christmas. Especially among the 1,960,900 people over 65 (1,410,000 women and 550,900 men) who, according to the INE, they live alone, and this comes from traditions where family values have a great significance.
The agency, which accounts for 4,687,400 single-person households in 2017, has seen an increase of 13% since 2010 and 30% since 2001 in the adult chapter. The so-called chronic loneliness. He did not value this during these holidays, but a survey in the UK reveals that a 5% of the population spend Christmas Day alone. Extrapolating, in Spain would be around a million.
But above all for the elderly, these holidays (not just on Christmas Eve or in San Esteban) are gloomy days when the feeling of loss and withdrawal is exacerbated, "explains psychiatrist Aurora García .
The triggers to feel alone are many: death of a loved one, retirement and loss of contacts, exclusion of social activities due to lack of money, rupture of a relationship, recent change to an unknown place …
To deal with the feeling of this unselected loneliness, the magazine Mind O Spanish Society of Gerontology and the oenegé Friends of the Elderly They advise getting in touch with people they know, be they friends or family, walk to feel more connected with society and strive to make the most of opportunities to make social contacts.
The problem worries the health authorities. Several studies published in the journal Annals of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) warn that loneliness increases the risk of anxiety, depression, cognitive impairment, hypertension, alcoholism, drug dependence, premature death …
"It is a risk factor for mortality," says a pioneering work from the Autonomous University of Madrid. Its coordinator, Laura Rico, highlights a increased risk for menbecause they only recognize the feeling of being alone when the severity is high, they refuse to go to health services and abound more in unhealthy lifestyles associated with loneliness, such as smoking and alcohol.
Ministry of Solidarity
Governments like the UK have begun to act in the face of the growing phenomenon. The underlying problem is not only young people who decide on their own volition and live hyperconnected in social networks, but especially Elderly without external support.
Solitary already surpasses nine millions in the confederation that presides Theresa May. More than 200,000 elderly people have not spoken to anyone for more than a month. His executive appointed a secretary of state (equivalent to minister) in this area, Tracey Couch, who will fight against this "social epidemic".
Only in the first four months of 2013 in Madrid, more than one hundreds of people died in solitude. Without anyone knowing. In other cities there is less data. When they come to light, they usually occupy long and dramatic informative spaces.
The problem is far from Japan, where every year 33,000 people die in their homes without anyone discovering their body in weeks or months. Many are men in their 40s and 60s who, after losing their jobs and breaking their family ties, degenerate to death. Most are abandoned elderly, with distant or deceased relatives. Bad smell is usually the sign that alerts the neighborhood.
It is also concerned in the United States, where according to American Association of RetireesAbout 43 million people over the age of 45 suffer from chronic loneliness and constitute "a public health priority."
Clouds in Spain
Spanish Red Cross, Doctors of the World or the Telephone of Hope They call for measures to reduce their incidence. They consider sociability to be crucial to well-being and survival.
Demographers warn the clouds as the downward trend of married people, children and the aging population, which reduces the chances of family help at this age. Spain's leadership in life expectancy (85 years) leads to a panorama of older and lonely citizens. At least in their homes.
The Ministry of Health guarantees that it is taking note and that "through him I am yours, plans to act on this demographic challenge and urgently address loneliness in the elderly. "And the Congress of Deputies urged him to develop a" national strategy. "At the moment, much theory.