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Dr. Helen

February 17th, 2014 - 9:27 am

Independent.co.uk: “Extreme loneliness worse for health than obesity and can lead to an early grave, scientists say”:

Feeling extreme loneliness on a long-term basis can be worse than obesity in terms of increasing the potentially lethal health risks that lead to premature death, scientists said.

Chronic loneliness has been shown to increase the chances of an early grave by 14 per cent, which is as bad as being overweight and almost as bad as poverty in undermining a person’s long-term wellbeing, a study has found.

As more people live longer, they are spending a bigger part of their lives feeling lonely. This is having a significant impact on their physical as well as mental health, the researchers found.

Loneliness is also becoming more common as people live alone or become isolated from relatives and friends, especially in retirement.

Research has shown that at any given time between 20 and 40 per cent of older adults feel lonely….

Maybe if our culture didn’t treat older people like pariahs and worship youth, older adults might feel less lonely. Worshiping youth makes young people feel like they should be having a good time and if they are not, their feelings of loneliness and isolation increase. Treating people with humanity regardless of age would be a good start.

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All Comments   (7)
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Two comments - 1) I agree with many of the previous comments that the effect of little social contact can vary, based on whether you are an introvert or an extrovert. Their are billions of people in this world and no two are exactly alike, so sweeping generalizations do not help. It is better to think of people on a "bell curve" with some having high needs for social interaction and some having low needs, and most people in the middle. 2) The vast majority of old people that I know or come into contact are rude, arrogant, self-serving and treat everyone else like dirt. I think that is the reason for their isolation. "You act like a pig, and you get treated like a pig". If old people do not want to be so isolated - let them learn some manners.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
Add me to the list of happy introverts. To me, "loneliness" is just another word in the dictionary. Never felt it, never worried about it.
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
Another non-news story. I learned about this in medical school in 1979. I keep seeing "new" medical and psychological studies that are reproductions of studies published decades ago. Today's researchers must not have learned how to do literature searches.
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
Us introverts are not as likely to get lonely, so I think this makes sense. It reminds me of the Spitz babies who were obviously suffering from lack of human connection. Trey
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
Exactly, once you get over the societal induced guilt/feeling you should be out interacting with people, introverts can be very happy alone.

For me if I start feeling a need for human interaction, I go to a store walk around for 20 minutes, then go home. I'm full of human contact for quite a while. If desperate for contact, you can speak to someone for a moment. This does not preclude being around people I enjoy when they are available.
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
I used to have a boss who was a salesman. He thrived on human interaction. I'm an introvert. After the often unpleasant effort of interacting with others, I need time to myself to rest and recover. He genuinely didn't understand this, and had no respect for it. These authors sound like him.
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
Sounds like an extrovert problem to me.

Of course, in the same manner having a parent that doesn't visit or interact with their kid, I suspect older parents feel the same when the kids don't visit or interact with them.

It would be interesting to see if the impact of loneliness is greater on those who deprived of contact with those theoretically obligated to visit than with those who have no reason to watch the driveway for the kids/grandkids visit.
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
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