Loneliness—Identifying the Causes

Loneliness—Identifying the Causes

The causes and factors of loneliness are outlines in the following article.

The causes of loneliness and the factors that contribute towards it – A …

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – Researchers at the UC San Diego School of Medicine released a study Friday looking into loneliness in elderly adults, and found it can be overcome in a variety of ways.

The researchers noticed what appeared to be an epidemic of loneliness among adults in senior living or retirement communities, and sought to identify why. According to the study, 85% of the interviewed residents reported moderate to severe levels of loneliness.

Dr. Dilip V. Jeste, senior author of the study and senior associate dean for the Center of Healthy Aging and professor of psychiatry and neurosciences at UC San Diego School of Medicine, said loneliness can be deadly.

“Loneliness rivals smoking and obesity in its impact on shortening longevity,” Jeste said. “It is a growing public health concern, and it’s important that we identify the underlying causes of loneliness from the seniors’ own perspectives so we can help resolve it and improve the overall health, well-being and longevity of our aging population.”

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Jeste said he found few published, qualitative studies about loneliness among older adults, particularly in the independent living section of senior housing communities.

He said several personal and environmental factors impacted the study subjects, all 100 of whom lived in an independent housing section of senior- living centers in San Diego.

“Loneliness is subjective,” Jeste said. “Different people feel lonely for different reasons despite having opportunities and resources for socialization. This is not a one-size-fits-all topic.”

Read More: The causes of loneliness and the factors that contribute towards it – A …

Loneliness could be overcome. Is it really a social problem?

Finding Strategies to Overcome Loneliness As We Age

A new study, which looked at loneliness in residents of a senior housing community, has identified several strategies to overcome feeling lonely and isolated.

“Loneliness rivals smoking and obesity in its impact on shortening longevity,” said senior author Dilip V. Jeste, M.D., senior associate dean for the Center of Healthy Aging and Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry and Neurosciences at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine.

“It is a growing public health concern, and it’s important that we identify the underlying causes of loneliness from the seniors’ own perspectives so we can help resolve it and improve the overall health, well-being, and longevity of our aging population.”

Jeste noted there are few published qualitative studies about loneliness among older adults in the independent living sector of senior housing communities, where shared common areas, planned social outings, and communal activities are intended to promote socialization and reduce isolation.

“So why are many older adults living in this type of housing still experiencing strong feelings of loneliness?” asked Jeste.

To answer that question, researchers conducted one-and-a-half-hour individual interviews of 30 adults ages 67 to 92, part of an overall study evaluating the physical, mental, and cognitive functions of 100 older adults living in the independent living sector of a senior housing community in San Diego.

In this communal setting, 85 percent of the residents reported moderate to severe levels of loneliness.

“Loneliness is subjective,” said Jeste. “Different people feel lonely for different reasons despite having opportunities and resources for socialization. This is not a one-size-fits-all topic.”

The study revealed that age-associated losses and inadequate social skills were considered to be primary risk factors for loneliness.

“Some residents talked about the loss of spouses, siblings, and friends as the cause of their loneliness. Others mentioned how making new friends in a senior community cannot replace deceased friends they grew up with,” said first author Alejandra Paredes, Ph.D., a research fellow in the Department of Psychiatry at UC San Diego School of Medicine.

Read More: Finding Strategies to Overcome Loneliness As We Age

Coping and dealing with loneliness is within your reach. 

How To Deal With Loneliness And Cope With Feelings Of Isolation

Every person experiences the feelings of loneliness and isolation from time to time. That is normal and to be expected.

What is more difficult is when we experience persistent feelings of loneliness and isolation that follow us regularly.

Transitions in one’s life may also fuel loneliness – such as starting a new job or moving to a new location.

Furthermore, depression and anxiety can amplify those feelings, causing a person to withdraw further, making them feel like they are standing all alone, even if they are in a room full of people.

How can we combat and cope with these feelings? These steps can help.

We cannot find a solution to a problem until we better understand what the problem is and where it comes from.

Acute loneliness and isolation is often the result of an immediate life change that separates us from our social circles or relationships.

It may be the result of moving, a career change, a bad breakup, or a falling out with a friend or family member.

Read More: How To Deal With Loneliness And Cope With Feelings Of Isolation

Loneliness—Identifying the Causes

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