LONDON: Loneliness is a major health risk for the elderly and it can increase the risk of premature death by 14%, warns a new research. A meta-analysis showed loneliness has twice the impact on early death as obesity.
The consequences to health are dramatic, as feeling isolated from others can disrupt sleep, elevate blood pressure, increase morning rises in the stress hormone cortisol, alter gene expression in immune cells and increase depression and lower overall subjective well-being.
John Cacioppo, professor of psychology at the University of Chicago who conducted the study, said the impact of loneliness on premature death is nearly as strong as the impact of disadvantaged socioeconomic status, which they found increases the chances of dying early by 19%. It is not solitude or physical isolation itself, but rather the subjective sense of isolation that shows to be so profoundly disruptive. Older people living alone are not necessary lonely if they remain socially engaged and enjoy the company of those around them.