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30.07.2022


Less lonely, longer life

If you go through life alone and never see or speak to anyone, you can still reach a blessed age. At least if you're not affected by feelings of loneliness.


Less lonely, longer life


Study
Paraic O'Suilleabhain, a psychologist from the University of Limerick in Ireland, analyzed data from 413 elderly people aged 70-103 years collected in the Berlin Aging Study. O'Suilleabhain followed his group from 1990-1993, when the study began, until 2009.

Some of the participants lived together when the study started. However, most of them lived alone.

The participants had answered a standard questionnaire that psychologists use to measure loneliness. This questionnaire distinguishes two dimensions, social isolation and emotional loneliness. The first dimension means that you see or speak few people, the second that you feel alone.

The table below shows which questions the participants answered, and how the dimensions are related.


Less lonely, longer life


Results
When O'Suilleabhain determined whether loneliness was a factor in the study participants' longevity, he found no association in the cohabiting group. There was, however, a correlation in the group that lived alone.

Social isolation did not affect longevity, but emotional loneliness did. The less lonely the study participants living alone felt, the more years they could live.


Less lonely, longer life


In the Berlin Aging Study, the participants also rated questions to help researchers find out what kind of personality someone has. There was no association between the study participants' personality and the impact of emotional loneliness.

Conclusion
"Present findings suggest future research would benefit from the further examination of associations between emotional loneliness and mortality in older adults who live alone", writes O'Suilleabhain.

"The results of this present study would suggest that the emotional component of loneliness seems to be of relevance to mortality, above social loneliness effects."

Source:
Psychosom Med. 2019 Jul/Aug;81(6):521-6.

More:
Loneliness leads to first stages of dementia 09.02.2017
Loneliness makes stress even more unhealthy 15.08.2014
Vitamin S prolongs your life 16.06.2012

Archives:
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