Loneliness takes a severe toll on the elderly, according to a new study that shows it's linked to a 14 percent higher risk of premature death.
"A psychology professor at the University of Chicago found the impact of loneliness is nearly as strong as the impact of poverty, which increases the chances of dying by 19 percent." (Via WSEE)
Researchers at the university studied more than 2,000 people aged 50 years or older. They found "the loneliest were twice more likely to die than the least lonely during the six year study." (Via Tech Times)
The study also showed loneliness is associated with higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which increases the risk of strokes, heart attacks and more.
"Health issues linked to severe loneliness include lack of sleep, high blood pressure and depression." (Via KCTV)
One writer for The Guardian says the study's findings mean loneliness can be harmful for people at any age. He poses the question, "What can we do about it?" writing, "If our attitude to the elderly doesn't change, loneliness will soon be four times more deadly than obesity."
One of the researchers, psychologist John Cacioppo, elaborates on how to help fight loneliness.
"What's really important is companionship and mutual assistance and protection. Having high-quality relationships with a few people is one of the keys to happiness and longevity. The stresses and challenges of life are more easily endured if we can share them with someone in whom we can confide and trust." (Via USA Today)