Domestic Preparedness, August 2023
In May 2023, the U.S. Surgeon General released an advisory entitled “Our Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation,” which finds that, even before the COVID-19 pandemic, about half of American adults reported feeling lonely. The advisory states that a lack of social engagement with others, which for some people includes friends and family, can have serious health effects for socially isolated individuals. This trend of social isolation and attendant civic disengagement could also have implications for the work of emergency management professionals – both from a public health standpoint and in regard to the whole community approach to preparedness.
The first to consider is, of course, the serious public health impacts. The Surgeon General felt compelled to issue the advisory because loneliness and social isolation increase the risk of premature death by 26-29%. Other possible impacts may include an increased risk of dementia and communicable respiratory diseases.