There are a number of factors which will impact one’s longevity which do not pertain to diet and exercise. A growing cause for concern in today’s modern society has been shown to also impact a person’s longevity and could be as dangerous as smoking 15 cigarettes a day researchers warn.
In a study, by scientists at Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore and published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, the association of loneliness and its impact on longevity was investigated.
“We found that lonely older adults can expect to live a shorter life than their peers who don’t perceive themselves as lonely,” summarised the study’s lead author, Assistant Professor Rahul Malhotra, Head of Research at Duke-NUS Centre for Ageing Research and Education (CARE).
He added: “Furthermore, they pay a penalty for their shorter life by forfeiting potential years of good health.”
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The study findings show that people aged 60, who perceive themselves to be sometimes lonely or mostly lonely, can expect to live three to five years less, on average, compared to peers who perceive themselves as never lonely.
Similarly, at ages 70 and 80, lonely older persons can, on average, expect to live three to four and two to three years less, respectively, compared to non-lonely peers.
The researchers found that the perception of loneliness also has a similar impact of health expectancy.
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Loneliness is also closely associated with depression, a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease.
Research also suggests that cognitive activity may reduce the risk for dementia, and lonely individuals may suffer from a lack of cognitive stimulation with others.
Study results suggest that perceived loneliness is an important risk factor for all-cause dementia and especially for Alzheimer’s disease, reported another study published in the National Library of Health.
It added: “Results underscore the importance of paying attention to subjective reports of loneliness among the elderly adults and identifying potential intervention strategies that can reduce loneliness.”
Loneliness and social isolation are associated with an increased risk of:
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Cognitive decline