Being Alone May Hasten Death in Elderly Kentuckians

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Many elderly people in Kentucky say that they want to live in their own home as long as possible, and not go to a nursing home or other assisted living facility. Recent research shows, however, that this may not be the best choice if an individual wants to live as long as possible.

Details of the Study

Nursing reported on the research, which was done at the University College London. The study’s purpose was to see if a link exists between social isolation/loneliness and death from any cause. The researchers also wanted to find out if loneliness had any effect on the relationship between social isolation and mortality. The researchers adjusted their analyses to account for the following confounders, or other factors that could account for the relationship:

  • age;
  • gender;
  • demographic factors, such as affluence, level of education, marital status, and ethnicity; and
  • baseline health indicators, such as long-term illnesses and lack of mobility.

Participants in the cohort study (following a specified group of people over a period of time to study the effect of certain risk factors) were taken from the 2004–2005 English Longitudinal Study of Aging, which was funded by the National Institute on Aging and a consortium of government departments in the United Kingdom.

The participants were 6,500 men and women age 52 and older. The individuals were assigned an isolation score and were questioned to determine a loneliness score. They were subsequently monitored for more than 7 years, and death from any cause was recorded.

Results of the Study

As of March 2012, 918 of the study participants had died. The following observations were noted:

  • A greater number of people who were rated as more socially isolated and lonelier had died.
  • Social isolation was significantly linked to mortality.
  • Loneliness was not strongly linked to mortality.
  • Adjusting the results to take loneliness into account did not change the link between social isolation and mortality.

Research Conclusions

The study results indicate that elderly people who are socially isolated, even if they do not feel lonely, are more at risk for dying than are elderly people who have more social interaction. The researchers acknowledge that assessments of loneliness and social isolation are somewhat subjective and may not accurately reflect the actual situations for these individuals. They point out that one may feel lonely even when surrounded by other people or be socially isolated without feeling lonely.

Nevertheless, having interaction with other people seems to be a positive factor in elderly individuals’ life expectancy. Simply having someone regularly check on an elderly person may prevent poor health situations from developing or worsening untreated.

Elderly people who enter Kentucky nursing homes should be assured safety and quality care.

Has Your Loved One Been Injured In A Nursing Home?

If you believe your loved one is being subjected to nursing home abuse you need to speak with an experienced Kentucky nursing home neglect attorney as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our office directly at 888.450.4456 to schedule a free consultation.