Many elderly paying the toll of loneliness

Feeling isolated and alone can be difficult to handle at any age, but the problem is compounded with the elderly because it can lead to health concerns such as loss of physical functioning and even early death. These findings were reported in a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

As part of the study, Geriatricians at the University of California, San Francisco, asked 1,604 people age 60 and above how often they felt isolated or left out, or in general lacking companionship. The attempt of the research was to define the feeling of loneliness, of not having contact with others and the distress caused by loneliness.

The participant answers were recorded in 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2008. More than 40 percent of those interviewed reported loneliness and this did not change over the span of the study. The health of those who reported general loneliness did change, however. It worsened.

In 2008, 24.8 percent of the seniors in the group that reported loneliness also reported declines in their ability to perform daily living activities: bathing, dressing, eating, using the toilet and getting up from chair or bed on their own. This finding is significant because less of those in the group that reported they were free from loneliness had similar declines. Only 12.5 percent in this group reported similar declines.

In Nebraska, there are many programs in the Omaha and Lincoln areas where seniors have the opportunity to make meaningful contact with others, which can be helpful in combating loneliness. If you think an elderly loved one might be suffering from loneliness, contact the experienced and professional staff at Encompass Senior Solutions for a conultation.

“Encompass Senior Solutions solves the problems families face in finding home health care providers they can trust. Providers who will focus on strategies that keep parents in their homes. To learn more about our health care services, visit http://www.encompass-home-health-care.com.”