Loneliness deadly for seniors

Those lacking companionship more likely to die during study period

Seniors who feel lonely are more likely to suffer declining health or an early death, a study finds.

Researchers from UC San Francisco conducted a six-year study of 1,600 men and women over 60 years old and found a strong connection between loneliness and poor health, according to SFGate.com. Loneliness was defined as feeling left out or lacking companionship, as more than two-thirds of seniors who reported feeling lonely were married or living with a partner. Lonely seniors had a 59 percent greater risk of suffering a decline in overall function—being less mobile or able to take care of daily activities—and a 45 percent greater risk of dying compared to subjects leading satisfying social lives.

“I’m hoping this paper allows people to look critically at themselves and how they treat elders around them,” said study author Dr. Carla Perissinotto. “This country is not great at caring for its elderly.”