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Guard against loneliness | Health Beat

Older populations are particularly vulnerable to loneliness amid the COVID-19 pandemic. A simple phone call can let someone know they aren’t forgotten. (For Spectrum Health Beat)

In the third month of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s little surprise that social distancing measures and stay-at-home orders are becoming challenging.

Human beings are wired for connection, said Allyn Richards, PhD, a psychologist with Spectrum Health.

“We’re biologically driven to seek out human connection,” she said.

As the quarantine and business closures remain in place in many states, it’s critical to foster connections that stamp out loneliness.

“Loneliness can affect mental health,” Dr. Richards said. “And it certainly impacts physical health, too.”

Loneliness is often tolerable for acute periods. But weeks? Months?

“Where it happens more chronically, that’s where you see more of the negative physical and emotional effects,” she said.

It can lead to anxiety, depression and lack of sleep, which

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