Saturday, December 6, 2014
Older Adult Loneliness (Research, Video 3:57)
Loneliness lurks in everyone’s life at some point. Older adult women and men often live during a time when their peers and family members are dying. Their lifestyles readjust due to various reasons such as declining health or retirement. They can be deeply impacted by loneliness, a risk factor for depression. Do women and men experience loneliness in the same ways? That’s what this research on loneliness examined.
With 1079 participants ranging in age from 64-94, loneliness was measured during face-to-face interviews. An analysis of the association of loneliness with socio-demographic, physical, and psychological factors rendered the following results:
1) The mean level of loneliness was not significantly different between women and men.
2) Among the oldest old (85+), loneliness was higher in women.
3) Women were more disadvantaged regarding living arrangements as well as physical and mental health.
4) Men had more adverse mental health conditions associated significantly with loneliness such as depression, low satisfaction with life, and low resilience.
5) Living alone was not associated with loneliness.
6) Lower social network was associated with a three-time higher risk for feeling lonely in both women and men.
These findings should be applied when ways to alleviate loneliness are considered. Year-round regular cards, letters, and visits from family, friends, volunteers, and others can do so much to improve older adults’ self-esteem and general quality of life. The average person can help older adults by offering assistance, sharing activities and helpful information with them, and by being an encouraging listener. This video conveys the overwhelming effects of loneliness, being forgotten, and the joy of being remembered.
Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at online and offline booksellers.