Loneliness In Later Life

Lonely Elderly Man

Many recent studies have linked loneliness in the elderly population with declining health and earlier death. The statistics on isolation and loneliness are sobering. One study found that adults 60 or older who described themselves as lonely were 59% more likely to show a decrease in their ability to carry out daily activities.  A study published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry found that elderly people who thought of themselves as lonely, regardless of whether they lived alone, were twice as likely to develop dementia than others over a three year time frame.

A recent study done by Brigham Young University looked at the health records of 300,000 adults, and they found that loneliness was a strong predictor of an early death. Just as strong a predictor as alcoholism or daily smoking. And it was an even better predictor than variables such as obesity or sedentary lifestyle. The researchers in this study urged that we need to acknowledge that social connectedness impacts the health and mortality of older adults. That it should be taken just as seriously as the other known risk factors for disease and early death. In our next article we will discuss some suggestions for easing the social isolation of older adults. One of them is to move into a senior living community where there are lots of opportunities for social interaction and connectedness. For guidance in finding assisted living, contact us today.

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