Everyone feels a bit lonely from time to time. But for some older folks that isolation can stretch out for longer and longer periods.
In fact, some seniors can go days without seeing a friendly face. Or weeks without hearing a familiar voice. And new research finds that isolation doesn’t just make you feel unhappy.
According to two new studies, it could literally send you to an early grave.1
In the first meta-analysis researchers dug into how our social connections effect overall health. They found that the more links to others you have, the longer you’re likely to live.
Slash your risk of early death by 50%!
And we’re not talking about a small drop in your risk for early death either. Those relationships can slash your risk for an early death by an astounding 50 percent.
In the second study, researchers dug into exactly how much isolation effects our health.
It turns out if you’re a senior who is socially isolated you face an even higher risk of dying than someone who is obese.
In other words even if you’re slim, trim and eat healthy your loneliness is putting you at major risk for an early death.
And it’s not the first time we’ve seen research highlighting how critical it is for our physical health that we socialize and stay active.
A Harvard study that’s been going on for nearly 80 years now, confirms it. Our relationships with others have a powerful impact on our health.
In fact, according to the Harvard Study of Adult Development being socially engaged leads to a longer, happier life.2
Close relationships offer powerful protection against mental and physical decline. Experts say they matter more than social standing, IQ or even genes when it comes to predicting a happy and LONG life.
And don’t think you’re off the hook if you aren’t a senior. The researchers found that loneliness was an even stronger predictor for death in those who were under 65.
Social isolation boosts risk of early death 30%
A 2015 Brigham Young University study found that your level of loneliness could predict an early death. According to the meta-analysis, social isolation boosts your risk of death by around 30 percent.3 Other estimates go as high as 60 percent.
Even more surprising was it didn’t even matter if the folks studied were physically isolated from other people, or they just felt lonely. Either way it seriously affected their health and longevity.
Don’t let loneliness affect yours.
If you’ve found yourself slipping into a social slump, let this new study spur you to reconnect with family and old friends. And let it serve as inspiration for making new connections.
Maybe reinstate an old tradition such as Sunday night dinner at your place. Or start a new one like Monday Night Movies or Pot Luck Thursdays. Your local senior center or church likely sponsors social events. In addition check your local YMCA for fun classes like yoga for seniors or water dancing.
Before long, you’ll find you need to buy yourself a new calendar to track all your social engagements. And you’ll be adding years of healthy, happy living to your lifespan.
1. “Loneliness: A Growing Public Health Threat,” presented at the 125th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association, Session 3328: Plenary, Saturday, Aug. 5, 3-3:50 p.m. EDT, Room 151A, Street Level, Walter E. Washington Convention Center, 801 Mount Vernon Pl., N.W., Washington, D.C.
2. “The Study of Adult Development,” Division of Psychiatry, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Department of Psychiatry, www.hms.harvard.edu, Accessed 8.28.17
3. “Loneliness and social isolation as risk factors for mortality: a meta-analytic review,” Perspect Psychol Sci. 2015 Mar;10(2):227-37
She is an advocate of self-education and is passionate about the power of group knowledge sharing, like the kind found right here on HealthierTalk.com. Alice loves to share her views on holistic and natural healing as well as her, sometimes contentious, thoughts on the profit-driven inner workings of traditional medicine.
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