Just as it is cruel to deprive the elderly of food or medication, it is cruel to accept the current state of social isolation. We could ask why these lonely people's families are not more involved or go down the Chinese government route of 'forcing' people to visit their elderly parents but the reality is that people are naturally occupied with making a living and raising their own young.
It would be a lie to suggest that nothing changes. I no longer throw extended, highly emotional screaming matches at being forced to eat sprouts, like I did when I was 12. Or wet the bed, like I did when I was 12. But fundamentally, it doesn't feel so different. I for one prefer a Tracey Beaker omnibus and ice cream to paying bills.
We are social beings and interacting with others is crucial to our functioning and mental health. The loss of active family connections and any sense of community, inevitably lead to depression so the question is how do we bring socialisng back into these people's lives and can a sense of community actually be established?
I'd like to think that, if I'm lucky enough to exceed the age of 80, with all my marbles and my more important faculties all present and correct, I'll be cut some slack in the matter of my more treasured bad habits. I'll feel that, having survived so long indulging my relatively few vices, I might as well head for the exit in a like manner.
Today, there is a paucity of our more tangible community galvanisers, such as gathering at church or community events, which could ameliorate the risk of social isolation. Perhaps, for the digital natives, social isolation need not be an issue as these physical gatherings are digitally dissolved by global online communities.