(KTSF by Susannah Lee)
Results of a new study by UCSF shows that lonely elderly tend to be less healthy.
According to the study conducted in 2002, elderly people who reported feeling lonely at some point in their lives are almost 60% more likely to suffer from a decline in their health which could their ability to take care of themselves.
Doctors say loneliness, just like stress, can trigger production of hormones which could compromise the immune system. Lonely elderly people are more likely to have bad appetite, and refrain from social activities, thus focusing and complaining more on their pains and discomforts.
1,600 participants over the age of 60 were part of the study. Researchers also looked at the death rate among the group over a six year period. Out of those who reported feeling lonely, the death rate was 23% compared to 14% of those who did not experience loneliness.
Researchers stressed that feeling lonely does not necessarily mean being alone. Many who reported feeling lonely in this study actually had families and lived with other people.
(Copyright 2012 KTSF. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)