Schemes to encourage social networking such as creating community centres have had limited effectiveness.
Now scientists have come up with a new way for people to tackle the social ill – on their own.
Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University found that teaching mindful meditation techniques was effective at reducing feelings of isolation, while at the same time boosting their ability to fight disease.
Study leader J. David Creswell, said: ‘We always tell people to quit smoking for health reasons, but rarely do we think about loneliness in the same way.
‘We know that loneliness is a major risk factor for health problems and mortality in older adults. This research suggests that mindfulness meditation training is a promising intervention for improving the health of older adults.’
The 2,500-year-old practice dating back to the time of the spiritual leader Buddha focuses on creating an attentive awareness of the present moment.