It’s never easy to be lonely, but it can be dangerous—life-threatening, even—for the elderly.
So says a study published this week in the Archives of Internal Medicine. The six-year study, conducted by physicians at the University of California San Francisco, found that people who reported being lonely were more likely to suffer a decline in health or die than those who were content with their social lives.
“I’m hoping this paper allows people to look critically at themselves and how they treat elders around them,” said study author Dr. Carla Perissinotto, an assistant professor of geriatrics at UCSF, in the San Francisco Chronicle. “This country is not great at caring for its elderly. But certainly that is one of the messages, to look out for the people around you, because sooner or later that’s going to be you.”
The UCSF study is among the largest to connect feelings of loneliness (as opposed to general depression) to ill health, such as Alzheimer’s, dementia or physical ailments. The study looked at interviews done in 2002 with 1,600 seniors over the age 60 who were asked to describe how often they felt lonely. Researchers then examined the physical health and reports of deaths among the group over the next six years.
The lonely seniors had a 59 percent greater risk of suffering a decline in function (defined as being less mobile or less able to take care of daily activities like bathing).
We here at Engage As You Age were thrilled this week to read the results of the UCSF study. These geriatric researchers confirmed that the work we do at Engage As You Age is critical to reducing loneliness—and by extension, cognitive decline.
If someone you know and love is aging, lonely and isolated, Engage As You Age can help. We match seniors with energetic, smart and thoughtful people who share their interests. All our visits are customized to your needs. Let us mobilize our network of talented professionals today and give us a call to get started.
Engage As You Age is the only organization in the San Francisco Bay Area (and the nation) that specializes in providing meaningful social interaction for Bay Area seniors suffering from the loneliness and isolation associated with Alhzeimer’s disease and dementia.