Loneliness is rampant. A simple call, or hug, may be a cure

CHICAGO (AP) — The pandemic has made loneliness inescapable around the globe and the health care community says it’s time to seek solutions. Evidence suggests loneliness can damage health as much as obesity and smoking. Shutdowns and social distancing may have worsened the problem. So some U.S. hospitals have created friendly caller programs for lonely seniors. Some doctors are prescribing social interaction as more people get vaccinated. In the UK, teens got people wearing bright yellow socks to highlight the problem and help erase the stigma. In Chicago, a friendly caller program made two strangers living alone feel like old friends.