New study says loneliness can cause premature death for seniors

Stacey Spivey

POSTED: Wednesday, February 19, 2014 - 7:01pm

UPDATED: Wednesday, February 19, 2014 - 7:02pm

According to a recent study by a professor at the University of Chicago, extreme loneliness can increase a senior's risk of early death by 14%. The resident care director at Emeritus at Pinehurst assisted living in Tyler, Shirley Dudley, says preventing loneliness in seniors is crucial. "It is as important to their care as their food as their medicine," said Shirley and that they have to have "socialization and that interaction or they will decline."

Cheryl Harris, life enrichment director at Emeritus, said you have to "keep them busy because time is just everything" Harris plans daily activities for their seniors like painting, games, dancing to music, and trips around town. "The main thing is to take care of our residents and make their day as pleasant and stress free as possible," said Harris.

That's exactly what they do, according to Lois Jensen, a resident at Emeritus. She told KETK she is thankful for living in such a welcoming place. "It just makes you feel at home. It keeps you from getting bored and you get in touch with all of the people," said Jensen.

The study also says seniors with good relationships are more likely to have better mental and physical health, than those who are lonely.

Loneliness amongst seniors can cause things like:

  • disrupted sleep
  • elevated blood pressure
  • increased depression
  • increased levels of stress
  • lower overall subjective well-being

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