Loneliness as Severe a Health Hazard as Smoking and Obesity

One in Three Seniors Is Lonely. Here’s How It’s Hurting Their Health

Source: Time

By Jamie Ducharme

Loneliness and social isolation are growing public-health concerns for people of all ages in the United States, from young adults to seniors. Studies have long connected loneliness to a range of health issues that could threaten longevity and well-being, including higher risks of heart attacks, strokes, depression, anxiety and early death.

Now, the latest National Poll on Healthy Aging finds that about a third of seniors are lonely.

“Research shows that chronic loneliness can impact older adults’ memory, physical well-being, mental health, and life expectancy,” write the authors of the new report. “In fact, some research suggests that chronic loneliness may shorten life expectancy even more than being overweight or sedentary, and just as much as smoking.”

In the study sponsored by the AARP, researchers from the University of Michigan surveyed a group of about 2,000 Americans ages 50 to 80. More than a third of seniors in the poll said they felt a lack of companionship at least some of the time, and 27% said they sometimes or often felt isolated; most of the people who said they lacked companionship also felt isolated, and vice versa. Almost 30% said they socialized with friends, family or neighbors once a week or less.

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