elderly with her Little Sister-Friends of the elderly-photoMeals on Wheels can deliver a hot meal. A doctor can prescribe pills. A personal support worker can help with dressing, or a bath. They’re all important, but what many old people need most is a whole lot harder to come by.

A friend.

Researchers say the impact on health of being lonely is comparable to smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Lonely elders are more likely to die of a heart attack and are at a higher risk for dementia, depression and anxiety.

More than 1,000 Quebec seniors are now matched with younger volunteers, with the idea of creating a real and ongoing friendship. Armand Marquiset, who founded the group Les Petits Freres, in 1936, believes that loneliness is as great a problem as hunger.

The group also provides friendship in the US under the English name, Little Brothers, Friends of the Elderly.

(READ the story from the CBC)

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