For people without friends or family, the holiday season can be especially lonely. And for seniors, the toll that loneliness takes can be catastrophic. As our older population continues to expand, including the growing group of “elder orphans,” we will have to come to grips with, and devise solutions for, lonely seniors. A new study published by AARP shines a light on the financial burden of this public health epidemic. Seniors who live in social isolation are sicker than those who have relationships, and the estimates are that this loneliness adds an additional $7 billion to annual Medicare spending as a result. And beyond the financial toll, there is real physical and mental health suffering that comes from being lonely, including cognitive decline and early death. For deeper insights into this phenomenon, take a listen to the newly published panel discussion from the Aspen Ideas Festival Here. One easy suggestion for combatting loneliness? Get outside. We already know that getting outdoors enhances the likelihood of social interaction and new research demonstrates that seniors who leave their home on a daily basis have a lower risk of death than those who rarely leave their homes. So button up your coat, tie on your scarf, and Read Here.