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From the Optimal Aging Portal: Reading to escape isolation


Published: ​March 25, 2020 | By The McMaster Optimal Aging Portal

Bottom Line

  • Whether voluntary or not, social and physical isolation can affect us all. It can increase feelings of loneliness, and is associated with physical and mental-health problems such as depression and anxiety.

  • To enjoy themselves, relax or feel less isolated, many adults read regularly.

  • Reading affects health, but also people's well-being. It can relieve symptoms related to depression and dementia, among others.

We are all cut off from the world right now, given the social and physical distancing and confinement measures associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. It is estimated that in "normal" times, about 40% of older adults feel lonely, while 7-17% report being socially isolated. Although these terms are often used interchangeably, social isolation and loneliness are not quite the same.(1) Social isolation refers to a real lack of social support and significant contacts, while loneliness refers to the person's belief that he or she is lacking or has lost company and experiences negative feelings that result from it. (2; 3) There is no doubt that the current context risks to exacerbate both social isolation and the feeling of loneliness among many people.

In this troubled time when we are isolated, but also bombarded with stressful information, we must find solutions to entertain ourselves and escape (if only for a moment) from this reality. Could reading be a solution? Read the full article here.

The McMaster Optimal Aging Portal (, a unique online health resource created by McMaster University to support the healthy aging of Canada’s older adult population, is highlighting ways to stay active and engaged while practicing physical distancing during the current COVID-19 pandemic.​ Read the full story


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