What is the Cost of Loneliness?

Loneliness is a common source of distress, suffering, and impaired quality of life in older persons. In June of this year, results were released of one of the largest studies in a nationally representative population to examine the relationship between loneliness and functional decline and death². This study examined the relationship between loneliness, functional decline, and death in adults older than 60 years in the United States.

Among participants who were older than 60 years, loneliness was a predictor of functional decline and death. Lonely subjects were more likely to experience decline in activities of daily living, develop difficulties with upper extremity, experience decline in mobility or experience difficulty in climbing.

With the increasingly large number of Americans aging and the high costs associated with disability ($26 billion annually for those who lose their ability to live independently over the course of a year) it is necessary to identify and, if possible, modify the factors that place elderly persons at risk for functional decline and death. On the basis of their findings, the authors hypothesized that health outcomes in older people may be improved by focusing on policies that promote social engagement and, more importantly, by helping elders develop and maintain satisfying interpersonal relationships. Read That Full Article Here.

²Loneliness in Older Persons: A Predictor of Functional Decline and Death. Carla M. Perissinotto, MD, MHS; Irena Stijacic Cenzer, MA; Kenneth E. Covinsky, MD, MPH, Arch Intern Med. 2012;172(14):1078-1083. Published online June 18, 2012.

Peer Support Recognized as an Essential Component of Mental Health Services
There is exciting progress happening on nation-wide efforts front to shine a light on the importance of attending to mental health needs of those in care. The Mental Health Commission of Canada produced a report in May of 2012 called CHANGING DIRECTIONS CHANGING LIVES: A blueprint to translate aspiration for change into action, to draw together people’s efforts across the country into an unstoppable movement to improve mental health. Here is what caught my attention:

Priority 3.4: Recognize peer support as an essential component of mental health services.
On page 62, it states, Children, youth, and seniors face particular challenges in gaining timely access to the right combination of services, treatments and supports. And on p. 137, it goes on to say: Publicly funded systems in countries such as Australia and the United Kingdom have made expanding access to these services a priority. This is reason to celebrate…mutual support/peer support is being recognized as an increasingly important health service. Read That Full Article Here.

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