By Ken Helander
For Senior Voice 

New film explores loneliness, isolation in Alaska


September 1, 2022 | View PDF

Update: Anchorage and Mat-Su showings for this film have been postponed to early 2023.

A new documentary film, “All the Lonely People,” with a significant portion filmed in Alaska, addresses the growing public health concerns of social isolation and loneliness, and it offers solutions to help reduce the harmful effects. The groundbreaking film will have its Alaska premier showings this winter.

We all know what social isolation is like. COVID-19 lockdowns showed us that. But for millions of Americans, social isolation and loneliness are all too familiar in their daily lives. The problem is an increasingly common focus of research on the impacts to older and other vulnerable adults. While social isolation and loneliness are not the same, they are closely related. Social isolation refers to the lack of social contact and having few people to interact with on a regular basis. Loneliness is the distressing feeling of being alone or separated. Of course, it is possible to be socially distant and not feel lonely, just as it is possible to be surrounded by others and still feel very alone.

Social isolation and loneliness often have very real public health consequences. They have been linked to an increase in mortality comparable to the impact of well-known risk factors such as obesity and cigarette smoking. Loneliness has been associated with increased risk of developing heart disease and stroke, high blood pressure, and progression of frailty. There are mental health consequences as well, including higher risk for depression, suicide and even dementia.

Social isolation and loneliness warrant an extended public discussion about these risks, as well as what each of us, as members of community, can do to help. “All the Lonely People” will be an invaluable tool to spur such discussions, both nationally and around our great state. The groundbreaking film features a poignant Alaska story of how caregiving and social stigma often increase the risks.

Ken Helander has worked with older Alaskans and their families for 40 years.


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