Captain Sharilyn Bush from the Salvation Army is encouraging locals to look after the elderly residents in our community.
Captain Sharilyn Bush from the Salvation Army is encouraging locals to look after the elderly residents in our community. Tom Huntley

Loneliness affects health: experts

HUMAN beings don't like to be alone, and for good reason, it seems.

A group of university researchers found if you're over 60 and lonely, your life could be at risk.

A report released yesterday found loneliness in the elderly appears to be associated with increased risk of functional decline and even death. The study, which was supported by the American National Institute on Aging, examined the relationship between loneliness and risk of functional decline and death in people aged over 60. Loneliness in Older Persons examined more than 1500 participants who were asked if they felt left out, isolated or a lack of companionship. Of the participants, 43.2% reported feeling lonely. Researchers found loneliness could also be associated with functional decline.

Lonely participants were found to be more likely to experience decline in activities of daily living including upper extremity tasks and difficulty in stair climbing. Following on from this, loneliness was found to be associated with an increased risk of death over the six-year follow-up period. The authors of the report said they found loneliness was a common source of suffering in older people.

"We demonstrated that it is also a risk factor for poor health outcomes including death and multiple measures of functional decline," they said.

"Assessment of loneliness is not routine in clinical practice and it may be viewed beyond the scope of medical practice. However loneliness may be as important of a predictor of adverse health outcomes as many traditional medical risk factors."

 

Loneliness in the Elderly

A new study of 1604 people aged over 60 has found that loneliness leads to an increased risk of functional decline and death

43 % of those surveyed (average age 71) reported feeling lonely

Loneliness was associated with an increased risk of death over a six-year follow-up period

Are you feeling alone and isolated?

Relationships Australia 1300 364 277

The Salvation Army 1300 36 36 22



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