Loneliness: Found to be a good indicator of illness and death
Loneliness can shorten your life, a new study has shown.
For the over 60s feeling lonely is a common source of distress and can lead to an impaired quality of life. Now researchers from the University of California have found that it could increase the risk of death by almost 10 per cent.
The authors believe their findings could important public health implications.
The team, led by Dr Carla Perissinotto, said: 'Loneliness is a common source of suffering in older persons. We demonstrated that it is also a risk factor for poor health outcomes including death and multiple measures of functional decline.
'Assessment of loneliness is not routine in clinical practice and it may be viewed as beyond the scope of medical practice. However, loneliness may be as an important of a predictor of adverse health outcomes as many traditional medical risk factors.
'Our results suggest that questioning older persons about loneliness may be a useful way of identifying elderly persons at risk of disability and poor health outcomes.'
The team examined the relationship between loneliness and risk of functional decline and death in older individuals in a study of 1,604 participants in the Health and Retirement Study.
The participants, with an average age of 71, were asked if they felt left out, isolated or a lack of companionship. Of the participants, 43.2 percent reported feeling lonely, which was defined as reporting one of the loneliness items at least some of the time, they found.
Loneliness was associated with an increased risk of death over the six-year follow-up period, 22.8 percent compared to 14.2 percent.
They also found isolated participants were twice as likely to experience a decline in daily activities with 24.8 per cent adversely affected compared to 12.5per cent of peers. Meanwhile 40.8 per cent of lonely people struggled with the stairs compared to 27.9 per cent of others.
The authors of the study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, a JAMA Network publication. concluded: 'Loneliness is a negative feeling that would be worth addressing even if the condition had no health implications.
'Nevertheless, with regard to health implications, scientists examining social support should build on studies such as those published in this issue and be challenged to investigate mechanisms as well as practical interventions that can be used to address the social factors that undermine health.'
A separate US study in the same journal found a link between living alone and an increased risk of death from heart disease among people at risk of blood clots.
Scientists examined data on 44,573 middle-aged participants, 8,594 of whom lived alone.
Living alone was associated with three per cent greater chance of dying over a period of four years. It also increased the risk of death from heart disease from around 7 per cent to 8.6 per cent.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2161136/Loneliness-shorten-life-make-day-activities-struggle.html#ixzz1yFYd9uAS