Loneliness -- the unpleasant feeling of emptiness or desolation -- can creep in and cause suffering to people at any age. But it can be especially debilitating to older adults and may predict serious health problems and even death, according to a new study by UCSF researchers.
The team analyzed data in the Health and Retirement Study, a nationally representative study by the National Institute on Aging conducted on 1,604 older adults. The research, published today in the Archives of Internal Medicine, focused specifically on the question of loneliness and its impact.
"In our typical medical model, we don't think of subjective feelings as affecting health," said first author Carla Perissinotto, MD, MHS, assistant professor in the UCSF Division of Geriatrics. "So the fact that you have this subjective feeling of loneliness that is independently associated with an increased rate of death and functional decline is really intriguing."