Posts Tagged ‘Loneliness’

Covid-19 and dwindling peers but, paradoxically, less loneliness

May 24, 2021

The data is still accumulating but it does seem globally that around 80% of all deaths due to Covid-19 are of those over 70 years old. In Sweden, 89% of deaths are of those over 70; in the US, 82% of deaths are of those over 65. Males are more likely to die of Covid or Covid induced conditions than females. All over Europe longevity statistics have been noticeably affected. Male longevity has reduced by close to 1.5 years and female longevity by about half that (c. 0.8 years).

My peers were dwindling anyway but they are dwindling faster due to Covid. Over the last year, eleven friends on my “frequently mailed list” (c. 4.5%) have disappeared (not all due to Covid).  But the paradox is that loneliness has not increased. The enforced physical self-isolation has led to a massive increase in digital contact methods. (I do not mean social media which I find more trouble than it is worth). Zoom calls, video calls, on-line contacts leading to more direct video and audio calls, have all increased markedly. I have seen and talked to many people – some after many years – who I probably would not otherwise have done. I have seen and talked to relative strangers by video calls which I would not otherwise have done. I have made new friends.

I wrote the post below about 3 years ago but I am – paradoxically – more hopeful about combating loneliness now. Not social media but digital/video contact could be the medium for mitigation. Surprisingly, and even though my peers continue to dwindle, the last year has demonstrated ways of maintaining contact and even of forging increased contact with younger generations. I see that apartment designs are already beginning to include a work-from-home space. Old-age and care homes will need to design-in digital, voice-activated, video contact facilities to a much greater degree than they do. Video contact cannot replace physical proximity but it could provide a tool to battle loneliness.

Dwindling peers or The loneliness of the long-distance survivors

Of those aged 50, the annual mortality rate is about 300/100,000. By the age of 60 this has increased to about 800/100,000 and then increases sharply to around 25,000/100,000 by 90 and encompasses virtually everybody by the age of 100. (There are currently about 300,000 people world-wide who are 100 years old and a handful who have reached 115 years old). On average women live around 4 -5 years longer than men.

Defining “peers” to be those of a similar age, I assume that most people probably reach a maximum number of peer-acquaintances at a little over the age of 50. In my own case I would guess that this was probably when I was around 55.

An increasing mortality then applies to a dwindling cohort of peer-acquaintances. The longer one survives the faster one’s peer-acquaintances shrivel.

Setting peer-acquaintances to be 100% at 50 (and ignoring accretion of new peer acquaintances), their number has dropped to around 80% at 70, and have halved by the time one has reached 80. At our 50th school graduation anniversary when we were all around 65, around 10% of our classmates had passed away. By the age of 90, peer-acquaintances have dwindled to less than 10% of those who were alive at 50. Those who live to 95 have virtually no acquaintances of their own age left alive.

When all your email is only spam

January 27, 2018

Looking at some old class photographs I realised that about 15% of my school class has passed away.


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