Living alone and loneliness can cause serious health problems and possibly death
According to 2006 Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data, 31 per cent of Australians over 75 years of age live alone. Two separate studies were published in ScienceDaily on Monday which showed that living alone and loneliness can cause serious health problems and possibly shorten life expectancy.
The first, an international study, published by Archives of Internal Medicine, has shown that living alone is associated with increased risk of death and heart disease. The study followed over 44,000 stable outpatients who were at risk of, or who had, arterial vascular disease. Of these participants over 8000 lived alone. The study showed that those who lived alone had a higher mortality rate, and were more likely to die as a result of cardiovascular problems.
The second study looked at loneliness in people over 60 years of age. Over 1500 participants, with an average age of 71, were asked questions to determine if they felt left out, isolated, or a lack of companionship. Of the participants just under 50 per cent reported some level of loneliness. Over the six-year follow up period participants who reported feeling lonely had a higher risk of death and were twice as likely to experience a functional decline.
This suggests that while loneliness is a problem in itself which we should attempt to combat, it also creates a range of other medical problems which could be putting strain on the health-care system.
Read the full ABS report on living arrangements of older Australians.
Visit ScienceDaily to read more about the study on living alone and heart disease.
Visit Science Daily to read more on the health risks associated with loneliness.
Have your say
Do you think that families or individuals are to blame for loneliness? Find out what Rachel thinks and have your say on the blog post Loneliness can make you sick.
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