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Loneliness can sneak up on people. Bill VanGorder, 80, sees it all the time.

During the pandemic, a weekly breakfast with friends over Zoom was one of his close friend's only sources of social interaction.

“[He] said ‘I don't know what I would have done without these… it has made all the difference,’” said VanGorder, who is chief operating officer and chief policy officer at the Canadian Association for Retired Persons (CARP), a national advocacy group.

VanGorder knows loneliness can bring on major physical and mental health problems. “[Loneliness] leads to poor mental health [which] is often the precursor to physical health issues.” 

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Hadassah Alencar is a bilingual journalist based near Montreal. She recently completed the journalism program at Concordia University, where she worked as a teaching assistant and became editor-in-chief...