We are living in an era of ageing populations. Making connections with other people is said to promote the mental health and longevity of older people. In this seminar, Dr Shankar addressed loneliness in older people living in England, some of the factors affecting loneliness in later life, and how loneliness is related to health and well-being.
As a super-ageing nation, Japan is in the front line when it comes to age-related problems. Mounting evidence suggests that isolation, often caused by the death of loved ones, triggers declining mental health. But some people – ‘hikikomori’ – choose to be isolated throughout their lives. Contrasting these two distinct cases of social isolation, Dr Cable addressed possible factors contributing to the trend to increasingly poor mental health among older people in Japan, and its relevance to the UK.
About the contributors
Dr. Aparna Shankar
Dr. Aparna Shankar is a Senior Lecturer at St George’s, University of London. She works on health and well-being in older adults, with a particular emphasis on the role of social isolation and loneliness, using data from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing and other ageing cohorts. Other research interests include the patterning of health behaviours and the role of the environment on health and well-being.
Dr. Noriko Cable
Dr. Noriko Cable is a Senior Research Fellow at the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London. She works on social relationships, alcohol use and mental health from childhood to late adulthood as well as cross-national examinations of mental health. Her work appears in the booklets Life gets under your skin and Never too early, never too late published by her research group, the International Centre for Lifecourse Studies in Society and Health (ICLS). Dr Cable’s recent work has focussed on the question ‘What can the UK and Japan learn from each other to promote healthy ageing?’, which she discusses in Sleep Medicine (2017) and Gerontology (2018, Editor’s choice).