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Loneliness can up Death Risk in Older Adults

Feb 17, 2014 08:31 AM EST
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The creepy feeling of desolation can lead to early death.

A new study looking at the link between loneliness and premature death found that lonely older adults have a 14 percent increased risk of dying early than their peers who have strong social ties.

The study was conducted by researcher John Cacioppo, professor of psychology at the University of Chicago and colleagues. Their study was presented at the American Association for the Advancement of Science Annual meeting in Chicago.

Researchers looked at the mental and physical decline associated with old age and even assessed how older people cope with the stress.

They found that the feeling of isolation is debilitating for older people and that broken emotional ties can interfere with sleep and immune function.

According to Cacioppo, people can avoid being lonely by taking part in family traditions and maintaining social ties with friends and former coworkers.

"Retiring to Florida to live in a warmer climate among strangers isn't necessarily a good idea if it means you are disconnected from the people who mean the most to you," said Cacioppo in a news release.

"We are experiencing a silver tsunami demographically. The baby boomers are reaching retirement age. Each day between 2011 and 2030, an average of 10,000 people will turn 65," he said. "People have to think about how to protect themselves from depression, low subjective well-being and early mortality."

Previously, researchers at University of California, San Francisco had found loneliness linked with serious health problems.

A related study had found that study, people with extroverted personalities are less likely to feel lonely in old age.

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